US Aug chem production rises on strength in basics - ACC

18 September 2009 16:47  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--US chemical production rose strongly in August, with gains in basic chemicals and pharmaceuticals offsetting declines in agricultural chemicals, consumer products and specialties, the American Chemistry Council (ACC) said on Friday.

Production rose by 0.8% in August, following revised gains of 0.2% in July and 0.5% in June, the ACC said in its weekly economic report .

“The industrial production report removed any lingering doubts about a trough and end to the recession,” the ACC said. “Moreover, the report suggests the economy is recovering faster than expected.”

The gains were particularly strong in basic chemicals, where bulk petrochemicals and organic intermediates were up 2.2% in August from July, the ACC said. Pharmaceuticals rose 1.9%.

However, specialty chemicals production fell 1.3% as strength in coatings failed to offset weakness in adhesives and other specialty segments, the group said.

Plastic resin output remained relatively flat, rising 0.2%.

On a year-over-year basis, production was off 8.5% for basic chemicals and 19.1% for specialties, according to the ACC.

Capacity utilisation increased 0.7 percentage points in August to 71.3% from July. It was down from 74.8% in August 2008, the ACC said.

Meanwhile, a pair of manufacturing surveys indicated positive prospects for future growth. The Empire State Manufacturing Survey, prepared by the New York Federal Reserve, had its general business conditions index increase 6.8 points to 18.9 in August from July, its highest level since late 2007.

Any reading above 0 indicates expanding regional business activity.

In addition, future indexes remained relatively high and close to August levels, suggesting that conditions were expected to improve further in the months ahead, the ACC said. The survey’s future conditions index gained 4.1 points to 52.3, its highest level in several years, according to the ACC.

The New York survey is considered a bellwether for the nation’s manufacturing activity, the ACC said.

Likewise, the Business Outlook Survey prepared by the Philadelphia Federal Reserve showed current business activity rising by 9.9 points to 14.1.

The Philadelphia survey is important because the region is home to a number of chemical companies with a regional focus in fine and other specialty chemicals, finished pharmaceuticals, and some inorganics, according to the ACC.

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By: Ben DuBose
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