FRANKFURT (dpa-AFX) - Citigroup's buy recommendations boosted the shares of Wacker Chemie and Evonik on Monday.

Wacker shares rose 4.4 percent to 116.55 as the favorite in the MDax mid-cap index after analyst Sebastian Satz raised the price target from 95 to 130 euros and therefore upgraded them two notches from "sell" to "buy".

Evonik rose by 1.4 percent to 19.12 euros. Satz raised the price target for this share from EUR 17 to EUR 22 and upgraded it from "Neutral" to "Buy".

After almost two weak years, the chemical industry is likely to have increased sales again in the first quarter, as the reduction in inventories on the customer side should be largely complete, Satz wrote in a European sector study. In addition, the economic outlook has improved, particularly in the important Chinese market.

Nevertheless, sales prices have not yet risen on a broad basis, which is the biggest obstacle to a comprehensive recovery in the sector. Accordingly, there is still a lack of conviction regarding the course of a recovery. The expert therefore looks primarily at company-specific factors when selecting individual stocks.

Wacker Chemie is his favorite for a broad economic recovery. There is positive potential for surprises in the solar silicon business. In addition, Wacker's overall attractive product portfolio appeals to investors who are also looking beyond 2024.

Clariant and Evonik - both now "buy" - are also attractively positioned, but have probably fallen off investors' radar to some extent. Satz also rates Covestro as a "buy", citing the takeover interest of oil company Adnoc as the reason.

At the bottom of the ranking for Satz are Solvay and the DAX company BASF; and he is also less enthusiastic about Lanxess. All remain rated "Neutral". BASF and Lanxess are well positioned in optimistic scenarios of an industry recovery - Lanxess, however, performs less well with regard to specific end markets - construction and agriculture - and BASF would need a significant tailwind from rising sales prices in the second half of the year.

BASF and Lanxess traded moderately higher on Monday, lagging somewhat behind the Dax and the MDax. Both indices rose by around half a percent.

The European chemical sector index Stoxx Europe 600 Chemicals was among the winners in the sector tableau on Monday with a gain of 0.3 percent to 1342 points. In recent months, the hoped-for recovery of the industry, which was badly hit in 2023, has begun. Since the low in October, it has risen by almost a quarter. However, there is still some way to go before the record high of almost 1400 points reached in early 2022./mis/ck/ngu