Petchems should not panic over slower Sept US auto sales: sources

24 September 2013 16:27  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--When automakers report September sales next week, those petrochemical firms that supply the raw materials for resins, fibres and other materials should not panic, sources said on Tuesday.

Because US Labor Day was counted in August sales due to the holiday weekend beginning on Saturday, 31 August, US auto sales are expected to only rise by about 2% for September, sources said, well off the blistering double-digit monthly gains automakers have been reporting over the past few months.

In other words, the mild September sales uptick is a result of the calendar, not any slowdown in the business.

"It has everything to do with how Labor Day fell and nothing to do with the actual sales pace," one Detroit source said on Tuesday. "We're still ramping up to have the biggest month of the year in October, and while most of the official forecasts are at 16 million units, most people know that when it's all added up in January, it's going to be above that."  

"Although the year-over-year sales gain in September is smaller than has been observed in recent months, it's important to recognize that September reported sales are being heavily influenced by a quirk on the industry sales calendar," John Humphrey, senior vice president of the global automotive practice at JD Power, said in a news release.

JD Power reiterated its 2013 US auto sales outlook of 16m cars and light trucks, a 4% increase from 2012. The firm also reiterated its 2014 auto sales forecast of 16.5m units, which would be more than 3% higher than 2013 if it meets the current 16m-unit forecast.

"Volume is expected to get a boost from a higher level of demand, but also from the introduction of new vehicles," JD Power said through its forecasting arm, LMC Automotive.

The US petrochemical industry supplies acrylonitrile (ACN), acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene (ABS), polycarbonate (PC), nylon and other resins and fibres to the auto industry.

Among the major US producers of these products are Ashland, Ascend, BASF, Cornerstone, Honeywell, INEOS and INEOS ABS, Pemex, PolyOne, SABIC, Styron and Styrolution.

US automakers are expected to report September sales on 1 October.

By: Mark Yost
+1 713 525 2653

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