US-made chemical shipments decline 14% in April - US Census

03 June 2009 21:55  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--The value of US-made chemical shipments neared a five-year low in April and declined 14% compared with the same month in 2008, according to data released by the US Census Bureau on Wednesday.

Led by a decline in the petrochemical sector, the value of chemical shipments in April totaled $49.8bn (€34.8bn), compared with $58bn in April 2008, the Census Bureau said.

The slump in chemical products led the decline in shipments of all US manufactured non-durable goods, which have been down eight of the past nine months, the Census Bureau said.

April's total neared the five-year low for shipments in February 2004, when $48.8bn worth of chemicals were shipped, according to Census data.

Total chemical shipments declined by less than 1% from March this year, when $50.1bn worth of material left US plants.

The Census Bureau divides the chemical sector into four sectors: pesticides and fertilisers, pharmaceuticals, petrochemicals, and chemicals used in paints, coatings and adhesives.

Petrochemicals fell the furthest of the group in April, with $29.9bn shipped that month compared with $37.5bn in the same month of 2008, according to the Census data.

The next greatest decline came in chemicals used for paints, coatings and adhesives, which accounted for $2.5bn in April compared with $2.85bn shipped in the same month of 2008.

However, paints, coatings and adhesives managed a 1.5% gain over the $2.47bn shipped in March of this year, which was the only month-on-month increase of the four chemical groups in April.

"The big movers are the stains and paints right now," a Census spokeswoman said. "This time of year is when it starts to pick up."

The last month when there was a year-over-year increase in chemical shipments was in October 2008, when shipments rose 4.4%, according to Census data.

Four of the six monthly declines since then have been by double-digit percentages, with April's decline the largest.

($1 = €0.70)

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By: Lane Kelley
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