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Specialty Chemicals Start Year on a Soft Note

Stays almost flat with few expansions.

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By: Melissa Meisel

Specialty Chemicals Start Year on a Soft Note

The Specialty Chemicals Market Volume Index, a tool created by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), fell in January, dropping 0.5 percent on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis after a 0.1 percent decline in December. Weakness in 2015 was centered in oilfield chemicals and a few other segments that, combined, weighed on overall volumes. Of 28 specialty chemical segments monitored, only 10 expanded in January, with none experiencing large gains (1.0 percent and over) in market volumes.
 
The overall specialty chemicals volume index was off 2.7 percent year-over-year (Y/Y) also on a 3MMA basis. Year-earlier comparisons were generally in the 4.0 percent to 6.8 percent range during 2012-2014 but since February they have fallen below that range as the downturn in the oil and gas sectors affected headline volumes. In addition, the strong U.S. dollar has adversely affected a number of export-oriented customer industries. Still, on a Y/Y basis, gains are fairly widespread among most market and functional specialty chemical segments. With few exceptions, however, year-earlier comparisons have been moderating.

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