The American Chemistry Council (ACC) reported that U.S. specialty chemicals market volumes ended the first quarter on a strong note, rising 0.6% in March. This follows a similar 0.6% gain in February. Volumes have generally been moving up since May. All changes in the data are reported on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis. Of the twenty-eight specialty chemical segments the ACC monitors, twenty expanded in March, five markets experienced decline and three were flat. During March, large gains (1.0% and over) occurred in mining chemicals and oilfield chemicals.
The overall specialty chemicals volume index was up 1.9% on a year-over-year (Y/Y) 3MMA basis. The index stood at 106.1% of its average 2012 levels. This is equivalent to 7.34 billion pounds (3.33 million metric tons). The downturn in the oil and gas sector had affected headline volumes and weakness spread to other segments. Year-earlier comparisons were negative from second quarter 2015 through second quarter 2016 but are now improving as the recovery in the oil and gas sector has engaged and is now aiding head-line volumes. On a Y/Y basis, there were gains among 19 market and functional specialty chemical segments.