February US chemical shipments reach 17-month peak

01 April 2010 17:06  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--US-made chemical shipments reached their highest peak in 17 months in February this year, a US Commerce Department spokeswoman said on Thursday.

The value of US-made chemical shipments rose 5% during that month compared with the same month in 2009, with chemical shipments totalling $53.98bn (€40bn), compared with $51.39bn in February 2009, according to the Census data.

"It looks like the highest total for chemical shipments since October 2008," said Jessica Young, spokeswoman at the Commerce Department.

Chemical products led the increase in shipments of all manufactured non-durable goods on a month-to-month basis, according to the Census, with chemical products up 1.5% over January. Nationwide, all manufactured non-durable goods rose 0.3% to $205.1bn shipped.

Chemicals also represented the largest sector in terms of total value shipped during the month - larger than food products ($51.9bn) and transportation equipment ($43.7bn), according to the Census data.

February represented the seventh month in a row in which chemical shipments increased month over month.

Chemical shipments still have a ways to go before reaching the all-time peak, though. Young said chemical shipments peaked at $61bn in July 2008.

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

Two of the four segments showed healthy increases in total shipments in February, with pesticides and fertilizers leading the group due to the advent of the spring growing season, up 23% over the same month last year.

Also, petrochemical shipments jumped almost 10%, totalling $33.6bn compared with $30.6bn in the second month of 2009, the data showed.

Meanwhile, pharmaceutical shipments fell 7.3% in February with $13.8bn shipped, compared with $14.9bn in the same month of 2009.

Paints, coatings and adhesives - a leading indicator of the housing market - also declined somewhat, totalling $2.48bn shipped in February, down less than 1% compared with $2.49bn in February 2009.

($1 = €0.74)

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By: Lane Kelley
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