US August chemical shipments rise slightly, petchems increase 10%

04 October 2012 17:26  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--The value of shipments of US-made chemicals in August showed only a small increase year on year, though petrochemicals rose 10%, according to data released on Thursday by the US Department of Commerce.

The value of US land and water chemical shipments totalled $62.19bn (€48.51bn) in August, up by 0.3% compared with $61.99bn a year earlier.

The largest chemical sector tracked by the Census – petrochemicals – rose for the fourth time this year, with shipments in August totalling $42.67bn, compared with $38.82bn in the same month of 2011.

In the three-month period from June through August, the value of US chemical shipments dropped slightly, down by 0.6%, compared with the same period in 2011. There was no gain in July, and in June shipment values dropped by 2%, according to the data.

In March, values declined by 2.5%. The March drop ended a string of 27 months of year-on-year gains for US chemical shipments since December 2009.

The value of total shipments for all US manufacturing industries in August extended its string of year-on-year gains to 33 straight months.

Total manufacturing shipments rose by almost 6% to $476.85bn, compared with $450.25bn in August 2011, the data showed. This includes fabricated metal and wood products, furniture, all machinery including computers, transportation and electrical equipment.

Chemicals ranked as the third largest non-durable goods industry in the US in August, surpassed only by transportation equipment ($63.99bn) and petroleum and coal products ($74.68bn).

The US Census Bureau separates chemical shipments into four sectors: pesticides and fertilizers; pharmaceuticals; petrochemicals; and chemicals used in paints, coatings and adhesives. Only two of the sectors showed gains in August.

Besides the big increase in petrochemicals, paints, coatings and adhesives continued to show positive gains, increasing by nearly 11% with $2.74bn in shipments compared with $2.47bn in August 2011.

The value of pesticides and fertilizer shipments again fell the most of any chemical sector. Lower water levels on the Mississippi river required lighter barge loads that impacted shipments during the summer.

Shipments in that sector declined to $3.0bn, a drop of 43% compared with $5.32bn in August 2011. Pesticides and fertilizer shipments fell 41% in July.

($1 = €0.78)

By: Lane Kelley
+1 713 525 2653

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