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Changes in Group structure represent 0.5% growth in sales. The impact of the Desjonquères and Reinforcements & Composites divestments in 2007 was more than offset by the contribution from acquisitions, particularly of Maxit and Norandex (consolidated as of March 1, 2008, and September 1, 2007, respectively). The exchange rate impact was negative 2.8% as a result of the further slide in the value of the U.S. dollar and pound sterling against the euro.
Like-for-like consolidated sales moved up €96 million (~ $150 million), or 0.9%. Sales prices remained on an upward trend (+ 2.6%), while volumes fell back slightly (- 1.7%) as expected, due to fewer working days for the same period in 2007. All of the Group’s business sectors reported a rise in like-for-like sales over the quarter, with the exception of Construction Products, which saw a 0.4% dip. This was fueled by a downturn in the Interior Solutions business in the U.S. that was not entirely offset by vigorous 4.9% growth in Exterior Solutions.
On the whole, residential construction remained on track in western European countries. In the U.S., however, in line with the economic scenario set out by the Group at the beginning of the year, residential construction markets continued to lose ground and are not yet showing any tangible signs of leveling off. As anticipated, household consumption, industrial output and capital spending held up very well in both the U.S. and Europe. Emerging countries and Asia remained buoyant and once again posted double-digit growth.
Activity in the Flat Glass sector (+ 3.0% like-for-like) continued to be driven by construction markets in Europe, Asia and emerging countries. There was a further rise in volumes and sales prices, and the product mix continued to expand. Demand for automotive glass also remained strong worldwide.
High-Performance Materials achieved 0.5% like-for-like growth, mainly as a result of the 2.8% growth in Ceramics, Plastics & Abrasives.
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