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Comment Business & Economics

U.S. specialty chemicals market dips in September, ACC says

By Scott Jenkins |

The Specialty Chemicals Market Volume Index fell 0.3 percent in September, reflecting the lingering effects of Hurricane Harvey on market volumes, according to the American Chemistry Council (ACC; Washington, D.C.; The decline follows a virtually flat performance in August. All data are reported on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis.

Of the twenty-eight specialty chemical segments monitored, ACC reported that eighteen expanded in September, while seven markets declined and three remained stable. Markets showing largest gains included cosmetic chemicals, electronic chemicals, and flavors and fragrances. Muting the overall index, large declines were observed in the catalysts, lubricants, and plastic compounding markets.

Note that on an unadjusted basis, the data also showed a 0.3 percent decline.

The overall specialty chemicals volume index is up 4.1 percent on a year-over-year (Y/Y) 3MMA basis. The index stands at 108.3 percent of its average 2012 levels. This is equivalent to 7.46 billion pounds (3.39 million metric tons). On a Y/Y basis, there were gains among seventeen market and functional specialty chemical segments. Compared to last year, volumes were down in eleven 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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