US March chem shipments rise for 12th month in a row

4 May 2016

Lane Kelly

US chemical shipment values in March rose for the 12th straight month year on year, according to data from the US Department of Commerce.

The value of US-made chemical shipments rose 6% in March to $64.09bn compared with the same month in 2015.

Source: US Department of Commerce

March shipment values for all US manufacturing industries fell about 4%, marking the 16th straight monthly decline.

The US Census Bureau separates chemical shipments into four sectors: pesticides and fertilizers; pharmaceuticals; petrochemicals; and chemicals used in paints, coatings and adhesives.

Three of the four sectors showed double-digit percentage gains in March, with the most dramatic increase once again for pesticides and fertilizer values, which jumped 79%, reflecting the continued turnaround in the US agricultural sector that followed a few years of drought and increased US corn production. Shipment values for that sector have soared by 60-85% in each of the past 12 months.

Petrochemicals declined 4% from March 2015, reflecting the decline in oil prices that brought a drop in derivative values last year.

Chemicals once again ranked as the third largest non-durable goods industry in the US in March, behind transportation equipment at $77.37bn and food products at $65.45bn.

The value of petroleum and coal products, usually ahead or even with chemical values but lower now because of plunging crude prices in late 2014 and throughout 2015, totaled $37.13bn in February.

Pharmaceutical and medicine values rose 15% in March and paints, coatings and adhesives rose almost 16% year on year.

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