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Trading and procurement policy

Business analysis

Macroeconomic context

2012 was a difficult year for both world commerce, contracting compared to the two previous years, and global growth, on which the uncertainties related to the unstable American economic still weigh, and the continuing recession in the Euro zone.

In the latter segment, against a modest growth rate in Germany, Greece appears to be still in great difficulty, Spain has strong unemployment problems and Italy was confirmed as in recession despite the continuing strong exports and the non-EU countries were especially hit.

The coexistence of the public accounts adjustments in various European countries is aggravating the crisis situation of the euro segment: in the labour market unemployment has reached high levels and appears destined to still grow due to the contraction of economic activity; the consumer demand of households and businesses is contracting, mirroring a historic lack of confidence of consumers and businesses.

To all this is added a reduction in foreign demand and trading between EU countries and, as in a vicious circle, the collapse in the Euro area imports again negatively hits global commerce.

On the financial markets front, the decisions of the European Central Bank have plugged speculative attacks, but certainly were not so effective as to be successful in removing the problems.

As to Italy, 2012 ended negatively: the GDP contracted to lows by a reduction in domestic demand, already historically weak, and investments. Weighing above all on the domestic consumption of households was reduction of income, due to greater tax pressure and to the loss of jobs: in fact it seems that the increase in the unemployment rate is not stopping.

To all this is added a further credit constriction no longer related to the collection difficulties of the banks, but worsening conditions and charges for granting loans motivated by the banks with the negative forecasts on the economy.

The country's technical government in office from November 2011 was successful in containing the spread between Italian securities and German bunds the increase in which, for a country such as Italy with government debt that in October broke though the 2,000 billion barrier, means a worsening of the already too onerous interest charges on the debt. This was, nevertheless, obtained with austerity manoeuvres that have depressed domestic demand as underlined above.

The euro/dollar exchange rate registered an annual average of 1.287 USD per euro in 2012, a reduction of 7.5% compared to the 2011 annual average of 1.392 USD per euro.

On the petroleum market front, the 2012 prices showed growth in the first quarter, reaching a maximum of 124.5 dollars a barrel, which was followed by a quarter with negative changes before rising again in the third quarter and some stability in the last part of the year.

 

The petroleum price compared to 2011 in any case recorded an increase of 0.3% at annual level, taking it to an average of 111.58 dollars a barrel, the highest ever recorded in nominal terms. Even in 2008, against historical maximums of almost 150 dollars a barrel, the annual average in fact remained under 100 dollars a barrel.

The 2012 petroleum price in European currency recorded a 9.3% increase compared to 2011 taking it to an average of 86.70 per barrel, an increase exceeding that in dollars due to the euro loss in value against the dollar, exceeding in some months the threshold of 90 per barrel and with the exception of June, always remaining above the levels of last year.