MOSCOW (MRC) -- The US specialty chemicals market volume index, a tool created by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), progressed further during the first quarter of 2016, rising 0.1% on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis in February after a 0.1% gain in January, said Hydrocarbonprocessing.
Weakness during 2015 was centered in oilfield chemicals and a few other segments that, combined, weighed on overall volumes, the ACC said in a report made available on Monday. Of the 28 specialty chemical segments included in the index, 17 expanded in February, with adhesives, construction chemicals and electronic chemicals experiencing the largest gains (1.0% and over) in market volumes.
The overall specialty chemicals volume index was off 1.5% year-over-year (Y/Y), also on a 3MMA basis. Year-earlier comparisons were generally in the 4.0% to 6.8% range during 2012 through 2014, but since February last year, they have fallen below that range as the downturn in the oil and gas sectors affected headline volumes.
In addition, the strong US dollar has adversely affected a number of export-oriented customer industries.
Still, on a year-on-year basis, gains are fairly widespread among most market and functional specialty chemical segments. With few exceptions, however, year-earlier comparisons have been moderating. 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.
Some areas where specialty chemicals are used include adhesives, cleaning materials, cosmetic additives, construction materials, food additives, fragrances and detergents.
This data is the only timely source of market trends for 28 market and functional specialty chemical segments, the ACC says. Chemistry directly touches over 96% 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.
As MRC informed earlier, Specialty Chemicals Market Volume Index, a new tool created by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) trade group, remains on a soft note, falling 0.4% in May from the previous month, on a three-month-moving average (3MMA). The index has seen steady declines since December as weakness in oilfield chemicals and a few other segments weighed on overall volumes. Of the 28 specialty chemical segments monitored, 11 expanded in May, 14 declined, and three were flat.