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WASHINGTON (June 24, 2019) – The American Chemistry Council (ACC) reported that reflecting mixed manufacturing activity, U.S. specialty chemicals market volumes were flat in May after falling 0.3 percent in April and 0.4 percent in March. All changes in the data are reported on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis. Of the 28 specialty chemical segments ACC monitors, 13 expanded in May, up from three in April and eight in March. During May, fourteen markets experienced decline and one was flat. No large market volume gains (1.0 percent and over) occurred. On a sequential basis, diffusion was 48 percent.

During May, the overall specialty chemicals volume index was up 1.9 percent on a year-over-year (Y/Y) 3MMA basis. Year earlier comparisons have been easing since third quarter 2018, but may be stabilizing. The index stood at 114.2 percent of its average 2012 levels in January. This is equivalent to 7.78 billion pounds (3.53 million metric tons). On a Y/Y basis, there were gains in 14 market and functional specialty chemical segments. Compared with last year, volumes were down in 14 segments. On a year-earlier basis, diffusion was 50 percent.

Performance chemistry reflects trends in manufacturing. For the first quarter as a whole, specialty chemical market volumes were essentially flat, and it appears that the second quarter will be soft as well.

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 in that 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.

This data set is the only timely source of market trends for twenty-eight market and functional specialty chemical segments. 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.

SCI-chart-June2019

Note that there are revisions to several segments as well as revisions to the underlying end-use data.

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