The American Chemistry Council (ACC) reported that U.S. specialty chemicals market volumes started the fourth quarter on a healthy note, rising 0.3 percent in October. This follows a 0.4 percent gain in September and a 0.6 percent rise in August. This marks an improvement from the average 0.1 percent gain in the second quarter but below the average 0.5 percent gain in the first quarter. In addition, the pace of change has moderated during the last three months. All changes in the data are reported on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis. Performance chemistry reflects trends in manufacturing. Of the twenty-eight specialty chemical segments we monitor, seventeen expanded in October, down from nineteen in September. Eleven markets experienced decline. During October, large market volume gains (1.0 percent and over) occurred only in foundry chemicals, lubricant additives, and textile specialties.
The overall specialty chemicals volume index was up 6.1 percent on a year-over-year (Y/Y) 3MMA basis. The index stood at 114.4 percent of its average 2012 levels in October. This is equivalent to 7.79 billion pounds (3.54 million metric tons). On a Y/Y basis, there were gains among twenty-two market and functional specialty chemical segments. Compared to last year, volumes were down in six 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.
This data is the only timely source of market trends for twenty-eight market and functional specialty chemical segments. Chemistry directly touches over ninety-six 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.