Chemical market up

T The American chemical industry began the third quarter on a positive note, with growth in U.S. specialty chemicals market volumes expanding 0.4 percent in July, following an upwardly revised 0.6 percent gain in June.

American Chemistry Council (ACC) also reported that volumes have generally been moving up since May 2016. All changes in the data are reported on a three-month moving average basis.

Of the 28 specialty chemical segments monitored, 12 expanded in July, 14 markets experienced decline, while two were stable, according to ACC. During July, large market volume gains (1 percent and above) occurred in cosmetic chemicals, oil-field chemicals, plastic additives, and plasticizers.

The overall specialty chemicals volume index was up 5 percent on a year-over-year basis, ACC said. The index stood at 109.9 percent of its average 2012 levels. This is equivalent to 7.57 billion pounds, or 3.44 million metric tons.

The downturn in the oil and gas sector had affected headline volumes and, along with weakness in other segments, resulted in negative year-earlier comparisons from the second quarter of 2015 through the second quarter of 2016. Led by the recovery in the oil and gas sector, headline volumes are now positive and strong, according to ACC.

On a year-to-year basis, there were gains among 19 market and functional specialty chemical segments.

Specialty chemicals are materials manufactured on the basis of the unique performance or function and provide a wide variety of effects on which many other sectors and end-use products rely. They can be individual molecules or mixtures of molecules, known as formulations.

The physical and chemical characteristics of the single molecule or mixtures, along with the composition of the mixtures, influence the performance of the end product.

Individual market sectors that rely on such products include automobile, aerospace, agriculture, cosmetics and food, among others.

Specialty chemicals differ from commodity chemicals. They may only have one or two uses, while commodities may have multiple or different applications for each chemical. Commodity chemicals make up most of the production volume in the global marketplace, while specialty chemicals make up most of the diversity in commerce at any given time, and are relatively high value with greater market growth rates, ACC said.

This data is the only timely source of market trends for 28 market and functional specialty chemical segments, according to the council. Chemistry directly touches over 96 percent of all manufactured goods, and trends in these specialty chemical segments provide a detailed view of trends in manufacturing. The data also sheds light on how various consumer end-use markets are performing compared to others in the marketplace.

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