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U.S. specialty chemical markets start Q2 on strong note, ACC says

By Scott Jenkins |

The American Chemistry Council (ACC; Washington, D.C.; reported that U.S. specialty chemical market volumes started the 2nd quarter of 2018 on a strong note, increasing 0.9 percent in April after an upwardly revised 0.5 percent gain in March and a 0.3 percent gain in February.

All changes in the data are reported on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis. Of the twenty-eight specialty chemical segments monitored by ACC, twenty-four expanded in April, one market experienced decline and three featured no change. During April, large market volume gains (1.0 percent and over) occurred in adhesives & sealants, mining chemicals, oilfield chemicals, plastics compounding and rubber processing chemicals, according to the ACC data.

The overall specialty chemicals volume index was up 4.7 percent on a year-over-year (Y/Y) 3MMA basis, and the index stood at 112.5 percent of its average 2012 levels, ACC says. This is equivalent to 7.75 billion pounds (3.52 million metric tons). On a Y/Y basis, there were gains among 21 market and functional specialty chemical segments. Compared to last year, volumes were down in five 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 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.


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