Chemical industry production drops in November - ACC
According to the American Chemistry Council (ACC), global chemical industry production fell 1.8% in November. This follows a slight gain in October and declines in August and September, part of a pattern of generally soft activity since January. Gains were limited to Latin America. Elsewhere, activity was declining. Compared to a year earlier, production is off 2.1% Y/Y on a three-month, moving-average (3MMA) basis and stood at 122.4% of its average 2002 levels.
The year-earlier comparisons moderated significantly since 4th quarter 2006 and turned negative in October. Amid customer destocking, sales have declined and orders are off significantly. Leading indicators of global industrial production continue to suggest additional soft activity in underlying final demand although customer inventories could be depleted in the 1st quarter.
Regional activity in North America fell in November and follows mixed results after hurricanes Gustav and Ike, which caused extended shut-downs in Gulf Coast facilities. November softness was broad-based and was particularly noted in basic chemicals where a large drop in bulk petrochemicals and organic intermediates, plastic resins, and man-made fibers offset stable activity in inorganic chemicals and a rise in synthetic. Production of specialty chemicals softened during November among nearly every specialty segments. In other chemistry segments, production declined in both agricultural chemicals and consumer products but fell slightly in pharmaceuticals. Recent data indicate softening activity in Canada and Mexico. Compared to the same period in 2007, overall regional production of chemicals was off 7.9% Y/Y and was off in all three NAFTA nations.
Output in the Latin America region was up only 2.9% Y/Y. Compared to a year ago, strong gains occurred in Brazil, Peru, and Uruguay, with soft activity in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Venezuela.
Preliminary data indicate that activity in Western Europe declined in November for the third consecutive month. Regional year-over-year comparisons have slipped in recent months and production was off 1.8% Y/Y. On a year-ago basis, the strongest gains have occurred in Belgium, Ireland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom as well as Luxembourg. Modest gains occurred in Greece with production elsewhere off from a year ago.
Production in the Central and Eastern Europe region was off 0.4% Y/Y in November. Particularly strong year earlier comparisons were noted in Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, and Croatia. More modest year-earlier gains occurred in Russia and Slovenia with production off in the other nations. Membership in the European Union benefited a number of countries in the region in recent years but with Western Europe faltering, softness is spreading to this region.
The situation in the Africa and the Middle East region continues to improve as new capacity is being brought on-stream in the advantaged-feedstock locations of the Persian Gulf. Strong gains occurred in Israel and Tunisia with more softness reported in Cyprus, Jordan, and South Africa. Regional production was up 12.8% Y/Y.
Production in the Asia-Pacific region has declined for four consecutive months. Overall production volumes in the region were off 0.7% Y/Y. The region continues to post large gains on a year-to-year basis, with particularly strong growth in China, Korea, and the Philippines being offset by softness in Japan, India, Australia, New Zealand, Pakistan, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand.
American Chemistry Council