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US speciality chemicals markets stable for start of 4Q16

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Hydrocarbon Engineering,

The Speciality Chemicals Market Volume Index, a tool created by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), showed that US speciality chemicals market volumes were essentially flat in October. This follows a revised 0.2% gain in September and 0.3% gain in August. All changes in the data are reported on a three month moving average (3MMA) basis. Of the 28 speciality chemical segments ACC monitors, nine expanded in October, four were stable and the remaining 15 markets experienced decline. During October, large gains (1.0% and over) were noted in mining chemicals.

The overall speciality chemicals volume index was off 2.0% y/y on a 3MMA basis. The index stood at 104.0% of its average 2012 levels. This is equivalent to 7.17 billion lb (3.25 million t). During 2014, y/y comparisons were generally in the 4.0 - 6.8% range, but since February 2015, they have fallen well below that range as the downturn in the oil and gas sector affected headline volumes. Weakness spread to other segments as well and year-earlier comparisons have been negative since second quarter 2015. Lately, the year-earlier declines have been moderating. On a y/y basis, there were gains among 12 market and functional speciality chemical segments.

Speciality 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.

Speciality 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 speciality 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 is the only timely source of market trends for 28 market and functional speciality chemical segments. Chemistry directly touches over 96% of all manufactured goods, and trends in these speciality 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.

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