Chemical Market Sees First Quarter Progress

March 24, 2016
ACC’s Specialty Chemicals Market Volume Index shows gains in January and February.

The Specialty Chemicals Market Volume Index, a tool created by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) progressed further during the first quarter of 2016, rising .1% on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis in February after a .1% gain in January. Weakness during 2015 was centered in oilfield chemicals and a few other segments that, combined, weighed on overall volumes, according to ACC. Of the 28 specialty chemical segments included in the index, 17 expanded in February, with adhesives, construction chemicals and electronic chemicals experiencing the largest gains (1% and over) in market volumes.

The overall specialty chemicals volume index was off 1.5% year-over-year (Y/Y) also on a 3MMA basis. Year-earlier comparisons were generally in the 4% to 6.8% range during 2012-2014 but since February last year have fallen below that range as the downturn in the oil and gas sectors affected headline volumes. In addition, the strong U.S. dollar has adversely affected a number of export-oriented customer industries, according to ACC. Still, on a Y/Y basis, gains are fairly widespread among most market and functional specialty chemical segments. With few exceptions, however, year-earlier comparisons have been moderating.

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