The American Chemistry Council (ACC) reported that U.S. specialty chemicals market volumes started the fourth quarter on mixed note, with no change in October. Of the 28 specialty chemical segments ACC monitors, 14 expanded in October, 10 declined and four were flat.
During October, large market volume gains (1.0 percent and over) occurred only in electronic chemicals and rubber processing chemicals, reports the ACC. On a sequential basis, diffusion was 57 percent, up from 52 percent in September and a recent low of 38 percent in July. All changes in the data are reported on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis.
During October, the overall specialty chemicals volume index was up only 0.2 percent on a year-over-year (Y/Y) 3MMA basis. Year-earlier comparisons have eased after the third quarter of 2018. In October, the index stood at 113.1 percent of its average 2012 levels. This is equivalent to 7.71 billion pounds (3.50 million metric tons). On a Y/Y basis, there were gains in 11 market and functional specialty chemical segments. Compared with last year, volumes were down in 17 segments. On a year-earlier basis, diffusion was 39 percent, a worsening comparison.
The unadjusted data before the 3MMA fell 0.7 percent during October following a 0.6 percent decline in September. On this basis, market volumes were off 0.7 percent Y/Y. Performance chemistry reflects trends in manufacturing and activity is off from fourth quarter 2018 levels.
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. Market sectors that rely on such products include automobiles, aerospace, agriculture, cosmetics and food, among others.
Specialty chemicals differ from commodity chemicals. They may only have one or two uses, whereas commodity chemicals 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 28 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 shed light on how various consumer end-use markets are performing compared with others in the marketplace.