INDUSTRIAL CHEMICAL INDUSTRY: PERFORMANCE SNAPSHOT FIRST HALF OF 2017

Highlights

  • Overall, industrial chemicals had a strong first half. In the second quarter, all metrics were up except for railcar loadings which was down slightly. Data mostly points to the performance being led by improvements in product pricing.
  • Shipments increased 13% in Q2, the second successive quarter of 13% growth. This performance was driven by very strong growth in petrochemicals, and good growth in inorganic chemicals and other organic chemicals. Synthetic resin shipments remained unchanged.
  • Exports for industrial chemicals rose 5% in the first half. Again petrochemicals led the way with a big surge compared to 2016. Other organic chemicals and synthetic resins also showed good growth. Inorganic chemical exports fell by 5% repeating the trend that was seen in the Q1 where shipments rose but exports fell.
  • Industrial chemical GDP rose by 2% in Q2 reversing declines that had occurred over the previous two quarters.
  • The quarter-over-quarter change in rail car shipments was down slightly (1%) in Q2. Volumes have been fairly constant since 2013 with some seasonal variations.
  • Operating profits remained strong, at $850 million for the quarter and at $1.7 billion for the first half was up slightly from the same period in 2016.