Domestic chemical production last month was up compared to the end of 2013 as indicators continue to show a healthy chemical market, according to the American Chemistry Council.
Recent ACC analysis shows that output in December was up 5.2 percent over December 2013, with increases reported in each of the seven geographical regions tracked by the industry group.
Production increased 0.8 percent compared to revised November numbers, with a three-month average showing increases in sectors such as organic chemicals, synthetic rubber, coatings, industrial gases, adhesives and pharmaceuticals. The average found declining production of fertilizers, plastic resins, synthetic fibers, acids and other inorganic chemicals.
In addition, the report said growth in the manufacturing sector in the fourth quarter of 2014 -- particularly in areas such as motor vehicles, construction materials, electronics, paper and plastic and rubber products -- provided strong indicators for those industries' related chemical products. A positive forecast for the housing market also reflected well on the economy, the report said, although the oil market continues to experience uncertainty amid potential stabilization in the China and the death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.
Railcar loadings of chemical products — which the ACC called the industry's best "real-time" indicator — also increased for the week of Jan. 17 compared to the same week last year, while market volume increased slightly in December, rounding out a strong fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, respondents to the ACC Economics & Statistics Department's January survey expect the gross domestic product to rise 3.2 percent this year — up slightly from the 3.0 percent 2015 forecast in the December survey — while business investment was expected to grow at 5.5 percent, matching the December expectation.