Executive Briefings

Specialty Chemicals Industry Ends First Quarter on Slight Downturn

The American Chemistry Council's Specialty Chemicals Market Volume Index ended the first quarter of 2016 on a soft note, slipping 0.1 percent on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis in March after a revised 0.1 percent drop in February. Weakness in oilfield chemicals and mining chemicals, among other segments, weighed on overall volumes.

Of the 28 specialty chemical segments included in the index, 12 expanded in March, two were flat, and 14 declined. The adhesives and sealants and construction chemicals segments experienced the largest gains in March (1.0 percent and over) in underlying market volumes.

The overall specialty chemicals volume index was off 2.1 percent year-over-year (Y/Y) also on a 3MMA basis. Year-earlier comparisons were generally in the 4.0 percent to 6.8 percent range during 2012-2014, but since February 2015 they 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. 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.

Individual market sectors that rely on specialty chemicals include automobile, aerospace, agriculture, cosmetics and food.

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Of the 28 specialty chemical segments included in the index, 12 expanded in March, two were flat, and 14 declined. The adhesives and sealants and construction chemicals segments experienced the largest gains in March (1.0 percent and over) in underlying market volumes.

The overall specialty chemicals volume index was off 2.1 percent year-over-year (Y/Y) also on a 3MMA basis. Year-earlier comparisons were generally in the 4.0 percent to 6.8 percent range during 2012-2014, but since February 2015 they 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. 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.

Individual market sectors that rely on specialty chemicals include automobile, aerospace, agriculture, cosmetics and food.

Read Full Article