Roland Berger Sees Widening Europe North-south Competitive Gap

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A majority of the southwest European respondents still sees the economy stagnating in 2015. People are asking whether it makes sense yet to invest in southern Europe, Max Falckenberg, a Berlin-based partner at Roland Berger who led the survey, said in a telephone interview. The process will be slow, because the unit labor costs and productivity in southern Europe need to become more competitive and the market needs further stabilization. Switzerland is the worlds most competitive economy, the World Economic Forum said Sept. 4, holding the top spot for a fifth year. Germany and the U.S. rose two slots to fourth and fifth respectively in the Geneva-based organizations 148-nation league. Singapore and Finland retained their second and third positions. Of the 701 respondents, 70 percent forecast economic expansion in 2014, with significant growth in 2015, the Roland Berger study showed. About 53 percent of respondents in northwest Europe expect their competitiveness relative to the region to improve. By contrast, only 10 percent in southwest Europe see an improvement in their position. No Swiss respondents anticipated a worsening of their situation. German Reforms Germany, home to Siemens AG (SIE) , Europes largest engineering company, and Volkswagen AG (VOW) , which is seeking to become the worlds biggest carmaker by 2018, must continue reforming, European Central Bank Executive Board member Joerg Asmussen said in a speech in Dautphetal-Buchenau on Aug.

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Automotive industry association ACEA said on Wednesday that new car registrations in Europe climbed 5.5 percent to 1.19 million vehicles in September, only the third month a gain was recorded in the past two years. But within the European Union, the level of demand was the second lowest on record for the month of September since it began tabulating results for the 27 member states in 2003. Industry watchers have been waiting to see if last month would reveal that the decline in August was merely a blip or a signal of further problems to come, after the EU car market crashed to the lowest level for the first eight months of a year since records began in 1990. “The worst is behind us. The decline in sales has considerably slowed and we are now witnessing signs of recovery in demand,” said Peter Fuss, Senior Advisory Partner at Ernst & Young’s Global Automotive Centre. “The sales, however, continue to be artificially boosted by huge discounts and self-registrations by dealers,” he added, warning it would take at least two years before the market was strong enough to grow on its own without the aid of incentives. In a sign of recovery on the ailing euro zone periphery, car demand in Greece, Ireland and Portugal – which all accepted bailouts during the crisis – jumped by double-digit rates. “The western European auto market continued on its course to recovery in September,” said the German auto industry association VDA. For the first nine months, the ACEA said registrations in Europe still fell 4 percent to 9.33 million new cars on the back of weak demand in Germany, Italy and France but also in the Netherlands, where sales have plummeted 29 percent year-to-date. September volumes are a better gauge of underlying trends in demand than August, since the latter’s results are artificially depressed given many European car buyers are on holiday. It is also a crucial time for the UK market, since it accounts for about 18 percent of annual volumes. Sales grew by 12 percent to over 400,000 vehicles in September, the sixth month in a row where they expanded at a double digit rate. The biggest winner in September was Renault, which increased sales 17 percent at its flagship brand while its low-cost Romanian badge Dacia saw volumes leap by 40 percent. Germany’s Daimler posted a strong month as well, with sales of its Mercedes-Benz luxury brand increasing nearly 14 percent after the French government was forced to end its sales ban of certain vehicles. Volvo reported a surprisingly strong gain of 13 percent to help its otherwise weak performance so far this year, while brands heavily dependent on the dismal Italian market like Fiat’s Lancia and Alfa Romeo brands continued to see volumes fall at a double-digit rate.

The current price is solidly above both a 50-day and a 200-day moving average. The 19% gains off of the June lows arent too shabby either, wrote Gordon. SCZ allocates over 49% of its combined weight to Japan and the U.K., but the ETF does have Eurozone exposure via Germany, France and Italy. The opinions and forecasts expressed herein are solely those of Tom Lydon, and may not actually come to pass. Information on this site should not be used or construed as an offer to sell, a solicitation of an offer to buy, or a recommendation for any product. @yahoofinance on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook Related Content Chart Your most recently viewed tickers will automatically show up here if you type a ticker in the “Enter symbol/company” at the bottom of this module. You need to enable your browser cookies to view your most recent quotes. Search for share prices Reuters Asian stocks marked time on Wednesday with nervous investors praying that frantic talks in Washington to avert Terms Quotes are real-time for NASDAQ, NYSE, and NYSEAmex when available. See also delay times for other exchanges . Quotes and other information supplied by independent providers identified on the Yahoo! Finance partner page .