January's monthly report shows a good rate of growth for the Praxair's business areas, with a 6 percent rise in consolidated sales. Company analysts explain this growth as reflecting both the higher volumes and prices charged last month against a strong prior year comparison.

In the U.S. merchant and packaged gas market the report shows a 10 percent rise in sales, though this excludes liquid hydrogen which was down year on year due to higher sales to competitors in the aftermath of the hurricanes. Flat on-site sales (ex natural gas) and lower equipment sales year on year have partially offset overall sales growth but in general for the U.S. pricing remains positive. Praxair say despite the small setbacks in some areas, overall all trends are in line with their forecast for Q1 2007.

In Europe the picture looks brighter still with a 29 percent increase in year on year sales, fuelled by strong volume growth in Spain and Italy and higher pricing due to increasing power costs. The same issues apply to the South American market where Praxair report 15 percent sales growth under similar conditions.

The figures from Asia are also encouraging with the company claiming 22 percent year on year sales growth in China, India and Korea.