According to the American Chemistry Council (ACC), the U.S. Chemical Production Regional Index (U.S. CPRI) slipped by 0.3 percent in April, following a downwardly revised 0.4 percent decline in March. Chemical production fell across all regions.
The chemistry industry is one of the largest industries in the United States, a $720 billion enterprise. The manufacturing sector is the largest consumer of chemical products, and 96 percent of manufactured goods are touched by chemistry.
Using a three-month moving average of the Federal Reserve data comparable to the U.S. CPRI, output of the nation's overall manufacturing sector rose by 0.3 percent in April, following a 0.5 percent gain in March. Within the manufacturing sector, output in several key chemistry end-use markets increased, including motor vehicles, aerospace, construction supplies, machinery, computers, plastic and rubber products, paper, textile mill products and furniture.
Also measured on a three-month moving average basis, chemical production was mixed. Output slipped in several key segments including pharmaceuticals, organic chemicals, plastic resins and synthetic rubber. Many segments, however, saw rising production. Some of the largest gains were in man-made fibers (MMF), adhesives, industrial gases, chlor-alkali and inorganic chemicals.
Compared to April 2011, total chemical production in all regions was up 0.3 percent and remained ahead year-over-year in all regions except the Gulf Coast, Mid-Atlantic and West Coast regions. On a year-to-date basis (comparing the first four months of 2012 with those a year ago), chemical production was up 0.5 percent nationally. All regions were ahead on a year-to-date basis except the Gulf Coast region.
The U.S. CPRI was developed by Moore Economics to track chemical production activity in seven regions of the United States. It is comparable to the U.S. industrial production index for chemicals published by the Federal Reserve. The U.S. CPRI is based on information from the Federal Reserve. To smooth month-to-month fluctuations, the U.S. CPRI is measured using a three-month moving average (3MMA). Thus, the reading in April reflects production activity during February, March and April.
Following a revised 0.3 percent decline in March, chemical production in the Gulf Coast region fell by 0.5 percent in April. Compared to a year ago, production was off 0.5 percent, and was down 1.4 percent on a year-to-date basis. The Gulf Coast region is dominated by the production of key building block materials, such as petrochemicals, inorganics and synthetic materials.
In the Midwest region, which is influenced by production of agricultural chemicals, plastics, paints, and other chemical products, chemical production fell by 0.3 percent during April, following a 0.4 percent decline in March. Compared to April 2011, Midwest chemical production was flat year-over-year, and was up 0.1 percent on a year-to-date basis.