Chemical Markets Update – December

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Prices and Lead Times Rising in China

Our office in Nanjing has passed along information that should be of concern for any companies sourcing in China.  Lead times are increasing for shipments on good local demand and production issues.  Also freight pricing has increased sending the cost of landed goods higher.  Finally increasing regulatory awareness and the costs associated with filing and keeping records up to date has also pushed prices higher.

Please keep in mind that the Chinese Spring Festival Holiday is Feb 9th  to the 15th this year.  Shipments from China are often affected for weeks prior to and after this very important holiday.

We suggest filling the pipeline with orders now!

The Chemical Company has operated our Nanjing office for 10 years now.  Our pricing and service from China are second to none.  If you are currently sourcing in China or considering it please confer with The Chemical Company.

 

The Chemical Company will be closed on New Year’s Day.

Otherwise we are open every day!

 

Potential Reforms in China

It is no surprise that much of Asia was interested in what might come of China’s Third Plenum, a high level meeting in November among China’s top leadership. First impressions from clients in Asia (as well as our own initial thoughts) was that while plans may sound good, it initially sounded like more of the same rhetoric. That observation may not prove to be entirely true.

It was initially reported that Chinese leaders decided to pursue various financial reforms, including a resolve to have the market “play a decisive role in allocating resources.” In addition there is talk of land reform and expanding urbanization of the society. Presumably this will help to reduce the disparities between rural and urban Chinese, while at the same time encouraging domestic consumption. While this is all interesting, there is little that is new in this discussion. Typical of large bureaucracies, the party statement (as quoted by Reuters) indicated that a team would be “designing reform on an overall basis, arranging and coordinating reform, pushing forward reform as a whole, and supervising the implementation of reform plans” with results expected by 2020. Our client feedback was that it was perhaps just the creation of one more bureaucracy.

There are a number of reforms, which if properly implemented may alter the current landscape. The reform that has been noted very generally, but has garnered a lot of attention, is the reduction of government input regarding resource allocation and letting the market “play the decisive role.” However, on the other side of that discussion, there are reportedly efforts to take on the problems of industrial overcapacity. Requests to acquire land for the production of products when there are already low plant operating rates (such as in the steel industry) would be denied.

We will see how this plays out in the markets, particularly since so much of the current situation in China continues to weigh on the rest of Asia. China walks a fine line between needing strong growth to create jobs, while at the same time trying to control inflation and fence in a speculative real estate sector. While plans may sound good, proper execution is needed to make a difference between achieving the stated goals for 2020 versus the entire effort simply becoming more of the same.

Reprinted with permission from RXN Petrochemical Consulting Inc.

Copyright ©2013 by RXN Petrochemical Consulting Inc.  All rights reserved.

For more information please email info@rxnpetrochem.com.

 

 Quote of the Month:

“No amount of experimentation can prove me right; A single experiment can prove me wrong.”

– Albert Einstein

The Chemical Company Celebrating our 25 Year Anniversary!

 

 

December is the final month of The Chemical Company celebrating our 25th year in business!  Looking forward to 25 more!

 

 

 

 

 

tcc_logo250

Informex January 2014

 

 

Product News

Adipic Acid:                   25 Kg., 500 Kg. and 1,000 Kg. Bags (In Stock and Available Now!)

NatureFlexx 509:             Phthalate Free General Purpose Plasticizer.  Available in Totes (2200 lbs.) and Drums.  (In stock and immediately avail.)

Malic Acid:                    25 Kg. Bags (In Stock and Available Now!)

Maleic Anhydride:            25 Kg. bags of USA produced briquettes available early 2014.

Bio- Succinic Acid:          2000 lb. supersacks and 25 Kg. Bags Available Now!

Vestinol 9 DINP:            TCC offers bulk trucks and split loads (w/ eso or dop) of DINP to North America.

Ammonium Bromide:       25 Kg. Bags in Stock and Immediately Available

 

 

New/ Updated Technical Information

Alumina Trihydrate

Calcium Nitrate

Dicyandiamide

Epoxidized Soybean Oil

Maleic Anhydride

Silanes

TDI 80/20

Vestinol 9 DINP

Please contact Robb Roach at robb@thechemco.com

or Tel: (401) 423- 3100 for more information.

We appreciate your taking the time to review this newsletter. We welcome your comments as well as contributions regarding our readers’ company/industry activities. Please send them to Robb Roach at Robb@thechemco.com

**Please note that all products are now in Alphabetical Order and many products are hyperlinked to their own information page.**

Critical Raw Materials Markets Raw Material Trends Legend

Benzene:   U.S. benzene contracts for December settled up $.385/ gallon to US$4.485/ gallon from US$4.10/ gallon in November.  Spot prices are in the $4.76- $4.94/ gallon range.  Contract pricing for January is expected to increase some $.30- $.40/ gallon.  UP

n-Butane:  Normal Butane prices are trading in the US$1.30’s per gallon going as low as $1.31/ gallon in December.  Pricing has trended lower throughout December and maintained its price below November’s price average of US$1.45 per gallon.  

Ethylene:  U.S. Contract Price for November increase $.0125/ lb. to $.4625/ lb.  Recent trades are in the mid $.50’s per lb.  UP

Natural Gas: NYMEX NG pricing has steadily moved higher throughout December.  Current NYMEX pricing is US$4.43+/- per mmbtu. January NYMEX settled at $4.46/ mmbtu the highest settlement since July 2011.  Low inventories due to cold weather is blamed.   UP

Check the real-time commodities tracker at thechemco.com for up to the minute info.

Oil: WTI crude has moved steadily higher in recent weeks to the current US$100.57/ barrel.  Demand is good in North America but less demand in Asia is noted.  UP

Check the real-time commodities tracker at thechemco.com for up to the minute info.

 

Orthoxylene: December contracts settled at US$.60/ lb. a rollover from November.  It is speculated that prices will remain flat for January but increase as the driving season approaches.  

Propylene: Contract pricing for December settled at $.705/ lb. for Polymer Grade and $.69/ lb. for Chemical Grade.  Up US$.04/ lb. from November.   UP

 

 

Chemicals Markets

Acids:  Most acids remain relatively balanced.  Adipic pricing has moved higher with benzene price increases.  Malic and Fumaric remain tight on excellent demand and limited butane based availability.  Recent increases in Naptha in China has pushed their production costs higher.

Methanol:      MNDRP remains at US$1.90/ gallon for January.   

Plasticizers:   Increases for branched plasticizers of US$.03 and US$.05/ lb. have been announced for 1/1/14. UP

Urea/ Ammonia: Ammonia is set to roll over for January at $450/ met ton cfr.  Urea pricing has risen steadily to its current US$340/ ton fob.  Pricing is expected to continue to rise as we move into high demand season. UP

Chemical Markets Update August

The Chemical Company

The View from Jamestown”
Chemical Markets Update, August 2013

Jamestown Summer Sunrise – Photo by: Robb Roach

 

Chemical Producers Squeezed

WTI Oil pricing has strengthened since early July and despite many pundits opinions about a downward correction, pricing has remained firm.

 

Source: INO.com

Chemical pricing has been relatively stable despite almost two months of a 10-15% higher oil price. The level pricing in chemicals is likely due to a general slow-down in demand on a macro level. Less demand in China and the Summer season along with its shut downs, for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, on a more micro level. But cost pressure eventually leads to price increases and it appears this cycle has begun.

The strength of oil pricing has started its progress down the chain. Price increase notifications for September have been announced and producers feel they can no longer afford to keep pricing stable. If demand also improves we will likely see the trend of increased pricing continue.

– A Short Message from Robb Roach, TCC President

 

Quote of the Month:

“It is an unfortunate human failing that a full pocketbook often groans more loudly than an empty stomach.”

– Franklin D. Roosevelt

 

In 2013 The Chemical Company is celebrating our 25th year in business and looking forward to 25 more!



 

 

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Product News

Adipic Acid: 25 Kg., 500 Kg. and 1,000 Kg. Bags (In Stock and Available Now!)

ChemFlexx 206: Linear phthalate functional replacement for long term outdoor weatherability in vinyl. Avaialable in bulk, split loads, totes and drums.

NatureFlexx 509: Phthalate Free General Purpose Plasticizer. Available in Totes (2200 lbs.) and Drums. (In stock and immediately avail.)

Malic Acid: 25 Kg. Bags (In Stock and Available Now!)

Melamine: 25 Kg. Bags and 2,000 lb. Supersacks

Vestinol 9 DINP: TCC offers bulk trucks and split loads (w/ eso or dop) of DINP to North America.

Zinc Borate: TCC now offers Zinc Borate in 25 Kg. Bags in Stock and Immediately Avail.

Ammonium Bromide: 25 Kg. Bags in Stock and Immediately Available

 

Products In Transit/ Available Soon

Bio- Succinic Acid

 

New/ Updated Technical Information:

Alumina Trihydrate

Calcium Nitrate

Dimethyl Terephthalate

Epoxidized Soybean Oil

Maleic Anhydride

Silanes

TDI 80/20

Vestinol 9 DINP

For more updated technical information please visit the Featured Chemicals page.

Please contact Robb Roach at robb@thechemco.com

or Tel: (401) 423- 3100 for more information.

We appreciate your taking the time to review this newsletter. We welcome your comments as well as contributions regarding our readers’ company/industry activities. Please send them to Robb Roach at Robb@thechemco.com

**Please note that all products are now in Alphabetical Order and many products are linked to their own information page.**

 

CRITICAL RAW MATERIALS MARKETS

Benzene: U.S. benzene contracts for August settled up $.10/ gallon to US$4.17/ gallon from US$4.07/ gallon in July. Spot prices are in the $4.35- $4.38/ gallon range so we expect an increase for September. UP

n-Butane: Normal Butane prices are trading in the mid-low to mid US$1.40’s per gallon. Pricing has been trending higher since July. UP

Ethylene: U.S. Contract Price for July has settled at US$.455/ lb. a roll over from June. August has not yet settled. Spot pricing has drifted slightly higher and is currently trading in the mid $.50’s per lb. UP

Natural Gas: The Natural Gas pricing trend continues lower. Prices fellbelow $3.40/ mmbtu in Early Augst. Current pricing is in the $3.60 – $3.655/ mmbtu range. UP

Oil: Current WTI crude has climbed above US$108.00/ barrel! Possibly driven by tensions over Syria and the Middle East?? Oil Trader speculation? Is this the last gasp before a correction? UP

Orthoxylene: August contracts settled up $.03/ lb. to $.64/ lb. UP

Propylene: Contract pricing for August settled at $.70/ lb. for Polymer Grade and $.685/ lb. for Chemical Grade. This reflects an increase of US$.05/ lb. for both Polymer and Chemical grade from July. UP

Check the real-time commodities tracker at thechemco.com for up to the minute info.

 

CHEMICALS MARKETS

Adipic Acid

Adipic Acid pricing is under some pressure as Benzene prices trend higher. Despite massive over-capacity in China availability in the western hemisphere is balanced. TCC has Adipic Acid in stock and immediately available in 1,000 Kg. Sacks, 500 Kg. Sacks and 25 Kg. bags. UP

For more information please contact Robb Roach at robb@thechemco.com

 

Ammonia

August pricing in Tampa decreased US$55/ ton to $470/. Ammonia pricing has decreased each month for the last 9 months.

 

Antimony Trioxide:

Demand for antimony trioxide remains weak and availability good. Current offers are in the mid $4.00/ lb. range for full truckloads. Buyers continue to keep inventories to a minimum and use alternate chemistries where possible.

For more information please contact AJ Petrarca aj@thechemco.com.

 

Dicyandiamide

Prices have strengthened as producers are under pressure and levied an increase. Sea Freight has also increased by 6% effective August 1, 2013. The Chemical Company has both bags and sacks in stock and immediately available. UP

For more information please contact AJ Petrarca aj@thechemco.com.

 

Epoxidized Soybean Oil:

Soybean prices have spiked since mid- August, check thechemco.com for real time soybean pricing on our commodities ticker. Epoxidized Soybean Oil Supply is healthy with competitive activity from new suppliers driving prices.

For more information please contact Robb Roach at robb@thechemco.com

 

Fumaric Acid:

Fumaric Acid Pricing is stable and availability on both domestic and imported material is balanced to tight. No new increases are noted.

For more information please contact AJ Petrarca aj@thechemco.com.

 

Glycol (Mono, Di and Tri):

General: Chinese pricing is up and above the US contract level creating a short term export opportunity. This will likely push prices up in September.

Ethylene: U.S. Contract Price for July has settled at US$.455/ lb. a roll over from June. August has not yet settled. Spot pricing has drifted slightly higher and is currently trading in the mid $.50’s per lb. UP

MEG – Some U.S. producers announced a $.02/ lb. increase for August. Spot prices are up and currently $.48/ lb. fob Gulf. UP

DEG- One U.S. producer announced a $.01/lb. increase for August. Spot prices are in the high $.40’s per lb. fob Gulf. UP

TEG- U.S. producers announced no price change for August. Spot pricing has dropped to the low $.70’s/ lb. range but the downward momentum has stopped as availability tightens on good off-season demand and at least one producer’s turnaround.

For more information please contact Robb Roach at robb@thechemco.com

 

Isophthalic Acid:

PIA pricing has been stable. Supply and demand also remain stable.

For more information please contact Robb Roach at robb@thechemco.com

 

Maleic Anhydride:

Supply is balanced in North America due to turnarounds and producer interruptions. Molten Prices have remained stable despite buyer pressure for reductions. Briquette prices have moved lower on less demand and good product availability. TCC offers Molten Maleic Anhydride to North America and has 25 Kg. bags of Maleic Anhydride Briquettes in stock.

For more information please contact AJ Petrarca aj@thechemco.com.

 

Melamine:

Melamine supply has tightened considerably with OCI on a Force Majeure in July and still struggling to get inventories up. Supply and Demand is the most recent driver of pricing. UP

For more information please contact Javier Fernandez Javier@thechemco.com

 

Malic Acid:

Malic Acid Pricing is stable and availability on both domestic and imported material is tight. TCC has Malic Acid in stock and available.

For more information please contact AJ Petrarca aj@thechemco.com.

 

Methanol:

The Methanex Non-Discounted Reference Price for August was unchanged at US$1.65/ gallon. Demand is very good. Spot pricing is currently approx. US$1.35- $1.40/ gal. and stable. September pricing is expected to be up slightly or unchanged.

For more information please contact Robb Roach at robb@thechemco.com

Notes:

Gas curtailments in Trinidad are expected to increase in September from their current 5-10%.

YPF (Argentina) has a 45 day maintenance beginning in mid- July.

Lyondell has re-started their Methanol plant (idled 2005) and expects on-spec product starting Q4 2013.

 

Nitric Acid:

Nitric Acid pricing is stable and availability is good.

For more information please contact Robb Roach at robb@thechemco.com

 

Phenolic Resins:

Phenol pricing has shifted only moderately higher on less demand and despite higher benzene values. Formaldehyde prices are stable with a quiet methanol market.

For more information please contact Jim Cahill at jimcahill@thechemco.com

 

Phthalic Anhydride:

Phthalic Anhydride pricing will increase by $.03/ lb. in September in line with the August orthoxylene price increase. Orthoxylene will likely continue to increase as oil and aromatics pricing are trending higher with Oil. UP

For more Information please contact Javier Fernandez at javier@thechemco.com

 

Styrene monomer:

Styrene pricing increased slightly for August in line with higher benzene values (up $.10/ gallon). NA demand remains slow. We expect styrene prices to remain stable to slightly up in September. UP

For more information please contact Robb Roach at robb@thechemco.com

 

Urea:

Current Urea granular barge pricing is US$287 – $300/ ton and looking forward firming to $300/ ton for September. Prills are a premium at $330- $335/ ton fob Gulf. Chinese exports have pushed US pricing lower but the export opportunity from China will soon close.

For more information please contact Robb Roach at robb@thechemco.com

 

Zinc Borate:

Pricing has been steady. Product is in stock and immediately available.

For more information please contact Robb Roach at robb@thechemco.com

 

Plasticizers and Plasticizer Alcohols:

Plasticizer demand world-wide has been stable despite the seasonal Summer slow down. Pricing is under pressure but increases are difficult to pass on due to excessive Asian import offerings. A new increases has been nominated by majors for September 1, 2013. Additional increases are expected as ethylene and propylene pricing continue to move up.

Plasticizer alcohol pricing is stable with lack luster demand and healthy supply.

For more information please contact Forest Goodman at forest@thechemco.com

 

TCC Plasticizers Available:

Note: Some plasticizers have limited availability. Please contact The Chemical Company for further details.

Non – Phthalate:

ChemFlexx Dibenzoate Esters

ChemFlexx DiOctyl Succinate (DOSX)

“ChemFlexx NP 500” Non- Phthalate Replacement for General Purpose Plasticizers

“ChemFlexx NP 600” Non- Phthalate Replacement for DIDP

“NatureFlexx 509” Phthalate Free General Purpose (ATBC)

Epoxidized Soybean Oil

ChemFlexx TOTM (TriOctyl Trimellitate)

ChemFlexx DOA (DiOctyl Adipate)

ChemFlexx 8 10 Trimellitate

Oxsoft 3G8 (Triethylenglycol-di-(2-ethylhexanoate))

Oxsoft DUO 1

Oxsoft DUO 2

Non Ortho Phthalate

ChemFlexx DOTP (DiOctyl Terephthalate)

 

Phthalate:

Vestinol 9 DiIsononyl Phthalate (DINP)

“ChemFlexx 206” Functional Linear Phthalate Replacement

“ChemFlexx 208” Low Temp Functional Linear Phthalate Replacement

ChemFlexx DOP (DiOctyl Phthalate)

ChemFlexx DUP (DiUndecyl Phthalate)

DMTP (DiMethyl TerePhthalate)

Brominated DOP

ChemFlexx 9 11 Phthalate

ChemFlexx L9 Phthalate

 

Contact:
The Chemical Company
P.O. Box 436
44 Southwest Ave.
Jamestown, RI 02835
Phone: (401) 360-2800
Website: thechemco.com
Email: Info@thechemco.com

ATTENTION: TCC will be moving November of 2013. Our new address will be:

The Chemical Company
P.O. Box 436
44 Southwest Ave.
Jamestown, RI 02835
Phone: (401) 360-2800
Website: thechemco.com
Email: Info@thechemco.com

Chemical Industry News June

Chemical Industry News

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) US Chemical Production Index declined by 0.1% in April 2013 following a downwardly revised 0.5 % increase in March. Compared to April 2012, chemical production rose in all regions by 0.5% following March’s 0.3% year to year increase. Comparing the first four months of 2013 to those of 2012, total chemical production rose 0.6% nationally.

The ACC’s Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB) rose by 0.1% in May, following a revised 0.4% decrease in April. The year over year monthly moving average showed an increase of 3.1% compared with May 2012.

Senator Frank Lautenberg, D-NJ, a long-term proponent of reforms for the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) passed away on June 3. He was credited for his leadership in establishing bipartisan approach to TSCA reform.

The EPA recently proposed two new rules regarding the use of formaldehyde in composite wood products. A response from the Formaldehyde Panel of the ACC noted that while regulatory goals are consistent with safe use, formaldehyde is a necessary ingredient in thousands of essential materials.

President Obama plans to reveal a package of separate actions in July focused on curbing US greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This appears to be an alternative to the proposed Keystone XL project, a $5.3 billion pipeline that would carry tar-sands oil from Canada to US refineries. It’s anticipated that the package will include final rules from the EPA limiting GHG emissions from new power plants. The State Department continues to assess the impacts of the pipeline; a final review is expected in weeks.

The ACC presented its Responsible Care Company of the Year award to Eastman Chemical Company, Solvay America, Inc., and Niacet Corporation in recognition of superior environmental, health, safety, and security performance.

Eastman Chemical is investing $1.6 billion in expansion of its Kingsport, TN facility which is expected to create an additional 300 jobs.

Linde North America plans a $200 million expansion at its La Porte, TX operation with start-up expected in the first quarter of 2015.

NOVA Chemicals is building a one billion pound per year linear low density polyethylene plant in Joffre, Alberta Canada in order to take advantage of low cost natural gas feed stock. Cost is estimated at $1 billion with start-up in late 2015.

BASF is considering investing $13 billion in the Asia-Pacific region, to include increased R&D activities.

Chevron Phillips Chemical is reported set to increase its ethylene manufacturing capacity at its Sweeny, TX facility. Annual output increase is estimated at 200 million pounds. CPChem is also investing in a $5 billion Gulf Coast project.

Kuwait’s state-owned Petrochemical Industries Co. (PIC) announced that it had reached a final settlement of $2.2 billion with Dow Chemical Co. as compensation for PIC pulling out of a petrochemicals joint venture. Dow said on its website that payment had been received.

Fluor Corp. has been awarded contracts for the engineering and construction of several new Dow Chemical Company facilities in Freeport, TX. This is part of Dow’s planned $4.0 billion Freeport expansion.
Total is considering the construction of an ethane cracker in Texas that would be connected with an existing cracker at Port Arthur co-owned with BASF.

Mitsui and Co. announced on May 15 that it will establish a joint venture with Celanese Corp. to manufacture methanol at the Celanese plant in Clear Lake, TX. Plant capacity is estimated at 1.3 million tons/year. Mitsui’s share of the production will be sold mainly in the US, while Celanese will use the material in the production of methanol derivatives.

Methanex CEO John Floren recently said that his company expects methanol demand to increase at an annual rate of 7.6% through 2016 or four million tons a year and that his company’s goal is to add 3 million tons of new capacity.

US chlor-alkali operating rate for April 2013 was reported at 87% of capacity, a drop of 4% from a month earlier. However, European operating rates dropped to 67.8% during the same period.

On May 10, ExxonMobil stated that ethylene production at its new one million MT/year cracker in Singapore was expected in a few weeks.

Chinese industrial output growth for May was 9.2% above May 2012. From 1990 to 2013 China’s industrial production growth averaged 13.3%.

Doubts are beginning to grow about whether China can pass the US to become the world’s largest economy in this century. A number of large ambitious projects have been delayed and growth appears to be slowing.

European bisphenol A (BPA) makers and users have shown concern over legislation that could restrict the use of BPA in European food packaging. The French government has banned BPA from food contact starting in 2015. There is concern that other countries will follow suit. The situation is similar to the ongoing issue in the US.

Unemployment across the seventeen European Union countries that use the euro hit a high of 12.2% in April, up from 12.1% in March. Among the member states, the lowest rates were Austria at 4.9%, Germany at 5.4% and Luxembourg at 5.6%. The highest were Greece, Spain, and Portugal at 27%, 26.8%, and 17.8 respectively.

For the first quarter, the eurozone economy shrank for a record sixth calendar quarter. This is the longest recession since records began in 1995.

The EU plans to impose punitive duties on imports of biodiesel; 7 – 11% for fuel from Argentina and 0 – 10% from Indonesia. The EU says that these countries are selling the product at unfairly low prices.

Russia’s SIBUR is expected to make a final decision whether to proceed with its planned 1.5 million MT/year ethylene cracker by the end of this year.

The Dow Chemical Company and Union Pacific said on June 7 that they have published a new report on a cooperative agreement that began in 2007 to improve rail safety and security. The project is a public-private partnership involving Dow, Union Pacific, Union Tank Car Co., the Federal Railroad Administration, Transport Canada, and the US Transportation Security Administration. The focus was to develop the next generation railroad tank car; there are new cars coming into service now.

Carload rail volume was up 2% annually in May on major US railroads. Intermodal volume was up 3.0% compared with the same period last year. Petroleum products shipments were up 41.8%.

The American Trucking Association reported that seasonally adjusted for-hire truck tonnage decreased 0.2% in April after increasing an adjusted 0.9% in March.

Shale oil and gas-related:

According to a report from the Energy Information Administration, technically recoverable oil and natural gas reserves in the US have increased by 35% compared with figures from 2011.

Affordable and abundant US natural gas supplies resulted in 97 announced chemicals and plastics projects totaling $71.7 billion in potential new investment, according to a recent ACC report. By 2020 these projects could lead to the creation of 46,000 chemical industry jobs, plus 264,000 jobs in supplier industries, and another 226,000 jobs in communities where workers spend their wages.

As a result of the shale gas boom, North Dakota showed a GDP increase of 13.4% in 2012.
The CEO of America’s Natural Gas Alliance, Marty Durbin, said that the continued expansion of natural gas in the market doesn’t require a major new policy on climate change as reductions in emissions have come about without regulation.

According to a study by the Empire Center for New York State Policy, if New York emulated Pennsylvania by using hydraulic fracturing (fracking) to gain access to vast amounts of shale gas, it would add $8 billion in income for upstate New Yorkers.

The public comment period for the Interior Department’s proposed fracking rules issued on May 16 will be extended for sixty days, it was announced on June 6. A spokesman from the American Petroleum Institute said that such an extension will allow for study of the new rules and to compare them with existing individual state policies. There are industry concerns that the new rule could slow production as well as damage state and local economies.

The Economy

The Congressional Budget Office reported that the federal government incurred a budget deficit of $627 billion from October 2012 through May 2013 (the first eight months of fiscal 2013), almost $220 billion less than the shortfall recorded for the same period last year. The CBO’s updated estimates indicate a fiscal year deficit of $642 billion. The US Treasury Department reported that on June 13, 2013 the federal debt was $16.74 trillion. The national debt has increased an average of $3.81 billion per day since September 2007.
April personal income decreased by $5.6 billion, or less than 0.1% compared to March. Consumer spending decreased 0.2% in April. In March, personal income increased $36.2 billion or 0.3%.

The US government debt held by foreign entities is in excess of $5.7 trillion, with China holding $1.25 trillion of it, or approximately 20% of all the debt owned by foreign entities. In January 2009 the US government owed $3.07 trillion to foreign entities. China remains the top creditor. Japan is a close second, holding $1.1 billion.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis revised estimate of the first quarter 2013 Gross Domestic Product showed an increase of 2.4%, that is from the fourth quarter of 2012 to the first quarter of 2013. Revised fourth quarter real GDP increased 0.4%. In the third quarter, real GDP increased 3.1%. In the second quarter, real GDP increased 1.3%. Current-dollar GDP, the market value of the nation’s output of goods and services, increased at a rate of 3.7% or $146.1 billion in the first quarter of 2013 to a level of $16,010 billion. In the fourth quarter current dollar GDP increased 1.3% or $53.1 billion.

The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index increased 0.6% in April to 95.0 (2002=100) following a 0.2% increase in March and an increase of 0.4% in February.

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index which had improved in April increased again in May. It stands at 76.2 (1985=100) up from an adjusted 69.0 in April.

The Institute for Supply Management’s May Manufacturing Index registered 49.0%, a decrease of 1.7% from April’s number of 50.7%, indicating contraction in manufacturing for the first time since November 2012 and only the second time since July 2009. The Non-Manufacturing Report for May was 53.7%, or 0.6% higher than the 53.1% reported for April, reflecting growth for 46 consecutive months.

In May, retail and food services sales adjusted for seasonal variations were $421.1 billion, an increase of 0.6% from April and 4.3% above May 2012. March through May 2013 sales were up 3.7% from the same period a year ago.

Privately owned housing starts in April of 853,000 were 16.5% below the revised March estimate of 1,021,000 but were 13.1% above the April 2012 rate of 754,000. Single family housing starts in April were at a rate of 610,000 or 2.1% below the revised March figure of 623,000. New single home sales in April were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 454,000. This was 2.3% above the revised March rate of 444,000 and 29.0% above the April 2012 estimate of 352,000.

The National Association of Realtors reported that sales of existing homes rose in April to the highest level in close to 3½ years. Existing home sales increased 0.6% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.97 million units. Realty Trac reported that foreclosure sales fell 22% in the first quarter compared to the same period a year ago.

A Census Bureau report stated that the share of Americans who own their homes was 65% in the first quarter, down from 65.4% a year earlier and the lowest level since the third quarter of 1995. Investors are buying single family homes and renting them out to capitalize on demand from families unable to qualify for mortgages.

New orders for manufactured durable goods in April increased $7.2 billion or 3.3% to $222.6 billion. This increase, up two out of the last three months, followed a 5.9% decrease in March.
April unfilled orders for manufactured durable goods increased $2.7 billion or 0.3 % to $996.2 billion. This followed a decrease of 0.5% in March.

Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers decreased 0.4 % in April on a seasonally adjusted basis. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that over the last twelve months the all items index increased 1.1 % before seasonal adjustments. Food index, unchanged in March, rose 0.2% in April. A sharp decrease in the gasoline index was the primary cause for the decrease in the all items index.

The Producer Price Index for all finished goods increased 0.5 % in May, seasonally adjusted, following decreases of 0.7% in April and 0.6% in March. On an unadjusted basis prices for finished goods increased 1.7 % for the twelve months ended in May 2013.

Interest rate: Prime at 3.25%, unchanged since 12/16/08.

Inflation: Inflation rate in April reported at 1.1%. The March rate was 1.5%, February rate was 2.0%, and January rate was 1.6%. The average rate of 2.1% was reported for 2012. It is expected to rise slightly in 2013 to approximately 2.3%.

Industrial production was unchanged in May, having decreased 0.4% in April and increased 0.4% in March after having increased 1.1% in February. For the first quarter as a whole, output increased at an annual rate of 5.0%, the largest gain since the first quarter of 2012. At 98.7% of its 2007 average, total industrial production in May was 1.6% above its year-earlier level. Capacity utilization rate for total industry decreased to 77.6%, a rate 0.2% below the level of a year earlier, and 2.6% below its 1972 – 2012 average.

Unemployment: The May 2013 rate was little changed at 7.6%, and has shown little movement since September 2012. The number of unemployed persons was reported at 11.8 million, basically unchanged. The Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that the long-term unemployed, i.e., jobless for 27 weeks and over was essentially unchanged at 4.4 million in May. Those individuals accounted for 37.3% of the unemployed. Over the past twelve months, the number of long-term unemployed has declined by one million. North Dakota continued to lead the nation with the lowest state unemployment rate in March of 3.3%; Nevada was reported highest at 9.6%, Illinois, Mississippi, and California close behind.

The goods and services deficit increased to $40.3 billion in April, from a revised March number of $37.1 billion January as imports increased more than exports.

Crude Oil: Present WTI spot price ~$98/bbl, compared to ~$100+/bbl a year earlier. OPEC outlook continues to show a slight reduction in demand in 2013.

Natural Gas: Henry Hub spot price closed on June 12 at $3.74/MMBTU. July 2013 contract reported at $3.77/MMBTU. Working natural gas in storage is lower than last year and the five year average.
The US dollar trading at 94.1 Japanese yen; $1.32 = euro. The British pound sterling = $1.57. The Canadian dollar trading at US$1.01.

Current US gold price: Quoted at $1381.40/ounce, down from $1463.60/ounce approximately one month earlier. The record price of $1920/ounce was recorded in September, 2011.

Chemical Industry News – Raw Materials – April 2013

The View from Jamestown – April 2013

“Think Positive and Good Things will Happen”

 by TCC CEO,  Nick Roach

Do we ever see a positive headline any more in the paper or on a news cast? The only one I have seen in recent years was about the Dow surpassing the all-time high of 2007. Why is all the news so grim?  It reminds me of Chicken Little from the children’s folk tale running in circles screaming, “The sky is falling! The sky is falling!”  I wonder if it’s my generation of baby boomers who probably expected too much from retirement that are responsible for this cynical attitude as their negativity is encouraged by the negative TV networks. Baby boomers have actually had it pretty good up until 2008. The economy was strong and new technology entertained us throughout our lives. Yet it is exactly that technology that I believe has made us so cynical.

Since before we were born, technology has been interfering with our security. I remember the corporate line charts in the seventies with many levels of management in the company. They were slowly going away over the first eleven years of my business career. We had regional offices throughout the country and rooms of clerks processing orders by hand. They were slowly replaced over the decades by computers. There has been a peering down of opportunity at large companies throughout the world. CEO’s and Presidents took credit for it and touted their skills, while the truth is, they just didn’t need the help thanks to technology. Management was ruthless and focused to peer down and fill personal pockets. Expansion into new markets was never considered. They just wanted to maximize their company’s value and use the proceeds for personal gains. This practice was taught at business schools, and there is no doubt that this so-called business technique is the best way to make a company look successful.

This is a fact of life with technology: we don’t need the average high school graduate as an employee today. To be employed, a person must be college educated and smart enough to oversee complex computers and machinery. We say college graduates are under-employed today. The fact is, we have eliminated tedious jobs by incorporating them into a new, highly productive manufacturing world. Unfortunately, such increased automated production levels cause even more jobs to be lost.

Give a smart kid the right opportunity and American productivity will increase. It can happen anywhere, even in a small restaurant. Look very closely at how productive all those employees in the food service industry have become; not just at McDonalds, but hiring people to do the work of machines has revitalized the corner deli, coffee shop and family restaurant.

So it’s time to be less cynical and start seeing the revitalization of the American economy. Yes we have a lot of debt, and my guess is that inflation will be the result of putting people to work to grow the economy. Yet with new technology developing gas and oil reserves all over the country, low interests rates and a productive young generation coming into control, I believe we have some good direction, and we must support it with a positive attitude.

The only change I would like to see is legislation that will allow companies to receive special tax incentives that expand and grow through the development of manufacturing new products and creating new markets. Let’s discourage the old attitude of buying for expansion by rewarding those who actually do expand. I see no reason for a company to pay any income tax if it has achieved specific predefined goals that clearly demonstrate its ability to help the economy grow. If the company is stagnant, then sure, let it hoard its cash, buy its competition, and pay income tax.

Reward aggressive management for the benefits they bring to America by expanding and growing the job market. Give them tax breaks that may even include tax incentives on bonuses they receive for a good job. It’s time to reward the people who have foresight, and help make the American economy develop and grow.

The right way would be to initiate programs that give national recognition to companies that stimulate growth by giving them US manufacturing awards. Let’s give some free national recognition to companies that are expanding their footprint while developing opportunities for our citizens. Let’s identify the good, ethical operations and reward them with the recognition they deserve. And let’s start with an occasional positive headline once in a while and a few positive news casts.

 

Contact:
The Chemical Company
P.O. Box 436
44 Southwest Ave.
Jamestown, RI 02835
Phone: (401) 360-2800
Website: thechemco.com
Email: Info@thechemco.com

 

Quote of the Month:

“Leadership is the art of accomplishing more than the science of management says is possible.”

–Colin Powell, quoted in the Nashville Tennessean

In 2013 The Chemical Company is celebrating our 25th year in business and looking forward to 25 more!



 

 

Upcoming Events

 

Adhesive and Sealant Spring Convention and Expo.

April 21-23, 2013 Atlanta, Georgia

www.ascouncil.org/events

 

APIC Asia Petrochemicals Industry Conference

May 9-10, 2013 Taipei, Taiwan

http://www.apic2013.tw/

 

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Downloadable Brochures:

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TCC Plasticizers and Plastics Additives
Iron Oxides
Composites
Flame Retardants

 

 

Product News

Adipic Acid:                   25 Kg., 500 Kg. and 1,000 Kg. Bags (In Stock and Available Now!)

NatureFlexx 509:             Phthalate Free General Purpose Plasticizer.  Available in Totes (2200 lbs.) and Drums.  (In stock and immediately avail.)

Malic Acid:                    25 Kg. Bags (In Stock and Available Now!)

Vestinol 9 DINP:            TCC offers bulk trucks and split loads (w/ eso or dop) of DINP to North America.

Zinc Borate:                    TCC now offers Zinc Borate in 25 Kg. Bags in Stock and Immediately Avail.

 

 

Products In Transit/ Available Soon

Bio- Succinic Acid:          2000 lb. supersacks and 25 Kg. Bags (Available Q2 2013)

Dicyclopentadiene:           Isocontainers

 

New/ Updated Technical Information:

Ammonium Carbonate

Castor Oils

ChemFlexx TOTM

Fish Oils

Melamine

Succinic Acid

Urea

Please contact Robb Roach at robb@thechemco.com

or Tel: (401) 423- 3100 for more information.

We appreciate your taking the time to review this newsletter. We welcome your comments as well as contributions regarding our readers’ company/industry activities. Please send them to Robb Roach at Robb@thechemco.com

 

 

Critical Raw Materials Markets

Benzene: U.S. benzene contracts for April settled down $.33/ gallon to US$4.36/ gallon from US$4.69/ gallon in March.  Spot prices this month have strengthened and are in the $4.40- $4.50/ gallon range.

N Butane:  Normal Butane prices are trading in the mid to high US$1.20’s per gallon. Pricing has trended lower since the beginning of March continuing the downward trend in April. 

Ethylene:   U.S. Contract Price for March settled even at US$.48/ lb. Current spot is in the high $.50’s cpp with offers as high as $.62 cpp.

UP Natural Gas: Natural Gas pricing has increased steadily  since February.  Pricing eclipsed the $4.00/ mmbtu price point in Mid- March and continues to climb.  Current pricing is $4.35- $4.40/ mmbtu. 

Oil: Current WTI Crude price is at $88+/- per barrel range.  Prices have been trending steadily lower since Mid- February when pricing was in the $97 per barrel range.   

Orthoxylene: April contracts settled down $.07/ lb. to $.625/ lb. 

Propylene: Contract pricing for April settled at $.63/ lb. for Polymer Grade and $.615/ lb. for Chemical Grade. Down US $.10/ lb. from March.

Chemical Industry News – April 2013

 

Chemical Industry News

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) US Chemical Production Index declined by 0.1% in March 2013 following a revised 0.4 % increase in February. Compared to March 2012, chemical production rose in all regions by 0.9% following February’s 0.8% year to year increase. Comparing the first three months of 2013 to those of 2012, total chemical production rose 0.8% nationally.

The ACC’s Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB) slipped by 0.1% in March, following a revised 0.4% gain in February. The year over year monthly moving average showed an increase of 0.9% compared with March 2012.

The recent explosion of a fertilizer plant in Texas has caused legislators to focus on the Department of Homeland Security’s Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards program (CFATS) and its implementation. Senator Frank Lautenberg, D-NJ has called for new legislation on chemical plant safety as a result of this incident.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chemicals office will use the risk assessments it is developing for an initial group of fourteen chemicals to evaluate, reduce, and manage risks in these and similar compounds that may already be in commerce, an EPA senior chemicals officer said on April 18.

The EPA has significantly reduced its estimate of the amount of methane emissions generated by hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations. The agency now says that the tighter pollution controls put in place by the oil/gas industry resulted in an annual decrease of 41.6 million MT of methane emissions from1990 through 2010, or more than 850 million MT in total. During the same period production grew by close to 40%.

According to a recent EPA analysis, emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) decreased slightly in 2011, dropping 1.6% year to year. Since 2005, levels have gone down nearly 7%. The agency cited improvements in automobile fuel efficiency, reduction of coal consumption and a relatively mild winter for this decline.

The EPA’s Office of Chemical Safety and Pollution Prevention would get $686.2 million in fiscal 2014 under the White House budget proposal.

The ACC has expressed concern about how budget cuts could affect the EPA’s permitting activities for industrial facilities, with possible delays in capital projects as a result.

In the most recent activity around BPA, on April 19 a judge in California ordered on April 19 that the chemical be removed from the state’s list of reproductive toxicants.

Methanex plans to move a second plant from Chile to Geismar, Louisiana. The two facilities will hire a total of 165 employees. Kinder Morgan Energy Partners will invest $58 million to expand its methanol storage capacity in Geismar, LA near the Methanex site.

Cytec has completed the sale of its coating resins business to Advent International, a private equity company. The price was reported as $1.13 billion.

DuPont reported that profit more than doubled in the first quarter from the year-ago period as the company shifts its focus from paint pigments to agriculture.

BASF leads other European industrial companies in US investment, driven largely by favorable natural gas prices. Since 2009, BASF has invested more than $5.7 billion in US facilities.

LyondellBasell Industries could add a polyethylene (PE) line with approximately one billion pounds annual capacity, and a PE debottlenecking project in North America. These projects are in addition to other ethylene capacity expansions in Texas and are based on abundant supply of natural gas and natural gas liquids.

US chlor-alkali operating rate for February 2013 was reported at 82% of capacity, compared with 85% a year earlier. January operating rate was 78% according to the Chlorine Institute.

Chinese first quarter GDP figures showed an increase of 7.7% year to year. This was lower than the target of 8%.

Unemployment across the seventeen European Union countries that use the euro hit a new record high of 12.0% for the first two months of 2013.

According to figures published on April 25, the number of unemployed workers in Spain and France has reached all-time highs. Spain’s unemployment rate was 27.16%. In France’s unemployment rate stands at 10.6%, with youth unemployment hitting 25%. German Finance Minister Schaeuble said he will discuss a “bilateral investment program” with his Spanish counterpart, which is hoped that will become a model for the rest of Europe. Germany’s unemployment rate was 6.9% in March.

EU exports of chemical products increased by 8% year-on-year in 2012 according to the EU statistics body Eurostat.

Russian statistics agency Rosstat said that Russia’s overall production of chemical and petrochemical products was up year on year in January and February. Plastics and synthetic rubber outputs were up significantly.

Russia’s SIBUR polypropylene plant is due to come on stream in the near future, which could double the company’s basic polymers capacity.

Saudi Acrylic Polymers Co. (SAPCO) is on schedule for a September start-up of its 80,000 MT/year superabsorbent polymers plant in Al-Jubail, Saudi Arabia. This will be the first SAP plant in the Middle East.

Trinidad and Tobago and a group led by Mitsubishi Gas Chemical signed an agreement to build a methanol to petrochemical project in a new industrial area in the country. The cost is estimated at $850 million.

Carload rail volume was down 2% annually as of the week ending April 20 on major US railroads. Intermodal volume was up 0.6% compared with the same week last year. Petroleum products shipments were up 40%.

The American Trucking Association reported that seasonally adjusted for-hire truck tonnage increased 0.9% in March after decreasing an adjusted 0.7% in February. Tonnage has increased in four of the past five months.

In a deal expected to end long delay for fliers caused by sequestration, Congress speedily approved a bill to revoke the furlough of air traffic controllers.

Shale oil and Gas-related

 

Pennsylvania State University is creating the Institute for Natural Gas Research in order to study natural gas developments in the Marcellus Shale. The project involves more than seventy faculty members.

Phillips 66 finalized agreements with energy logistics companies to increase supplies of lower cost US and Canadian crude oil, including Bakken shale product, to its US refineries.

The US east coast has seen a rejuvenation of refinery activities due to shale-based crude oil. Oil companies have begun to bring domestic shale east by rail then ship it down the coast. The Carlyle Group is building a high-speed rail facility as well.

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee was to have held a hearing on April 25 on the federal government’s studies of fracking. Officials from all concerned agencies were expected to testify.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell was recently quoted saying that based on her experience fracking is a safe drilling procedure.

News that the UK government is to promote shale gas exploration is expected to be greeted positively by the European chemical industry, which is struggling with a non-competitive feedstock market.

Royal Dutch Shell and Williams Partners are forming a joint venture to supply natural gas and liquids to petrochemical facilities in northwest Pennsylvania, including a possible ethane cracker. The company will be called Three Rivers Midstream and will be operated by Williams, with Shell having the right to increase its investment.

David Spence of the University of Texas recently wrote that state-based regulation of fracking is more effective than federal oversight. He stated that the benefits and costs of fracking fall mostly on local and state communities.

China reportedly has about twice the amount of shale gas reserves as does the US and Chinese firms are eager to learn shale technology. Analysts expect a Chinese shale gas boom possibly as soon as three years from now.

The Economy

The Congressional Budget Office reported that the federal government incurred a budget deficit of $601 billion for the first half of fiscal year 2013 (that is, October 2012 through March 2013), $178 billion less than the shortfall recorded for the same period last year. The deficit in March 2013 amounted to $107 billion. The US Treasury Department reported that on April 27, 2013 the federal debt was $16.77 trillion. The national debt has increased an average of $3.81 billion per day since September 2007.

March personal income increased by $30.9 billion, or 0.2% compared to February. Consumer spending rose 0.2% in March. In February personal income increased $151.2 billion or 1.1% and spending increased $81.6 billion, or 0.7%.

It’s been reported in The Wall Street Journal that Congressional leaders were in confidential talks to exempt themselves and their staffs from Obamacare.

The US government debt held by foreign entities is in excess of $5.5 trillion, with China holding $1.23 trillion of it, or approximately 20% of all the debt owned by foreign entities. In January 2009 the US government owed $3.07 trillion to foreign entities. China remains the top creditor. Japan is a close second, holding $1.1 billion.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis estimate of the first quarter 2013 Gross Domestic Product showed an increase of 2.5%, that is from the fourth quarter of 2012 to the first quarter of 2013. Revised fourth quarter real GDP increased 0.4%. In the third quarter, real GDP increased 3.1%. In the second quarter, real GDP increased 1.3%. Current-dollar GDP, the market value of the nation’s output of goods and services, increased at a rate of 3.7% or $146.1 billion in the first quarter of 2013 to a level of $16,010 billion. In the fourth quarter current dollar GDP increased 1.3% or $53.1 billion.

The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Index declined 0.1% in March to 94.7 (2002=100) following a 0.5% increase in February and an increase of 0.5% in January.

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index which had improved in February, declined in March. It stands at 59.7 (1985=100) down from an adjusted 68.0 in February.

The Institute for Supply Management’s Manufacturing Index decreased 2.9% to 51.3% in March, showing expansion for the fourth consecutive month but at a slower rate. A reading above 50% indicates that the manufacturing economy is generally expanding. The Non-Manufacturing Report for March was 54.4%, or 1.6% lower than the 56% reported for February, but reflecting growth for 44 consecutive months.

In March, retail and food services sales adjusted for seasonal variations were $418.3 billion, a decrease of 0.4% from February and 2.8% above March 2012. January through March 2013 sales were up 3.7% from the same period a year ago.

Privately owned housing starts in March of 1,036,000 were 7.0% above the revised February estimate of 968,000 and were 46.7% above the March 2012 rate of 706,000. Single family housing starts in March were at a rate of 619,000 or 4.8% below the revised February figure of 650,000. New single home sales were at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 417,000. This was 1.5% above the revised February rate of 411,000 and 18.5% above the March 2012 estimate of 352,000.

The National Association of Realtors reported that sales of existing homes edged down 0.6% in March to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 4.92 million units. Sales of existing homes in March were 10.3% higher than the same period a year earlier.

New orders for manufactured durable goods in March decreased $13.1 billion or 5.7% to $216.3 billion. This decrease, down two out of the last three months, followed a 4.3% increase in February.

March unfilled orders for manufactured durable goods decreased $6.4 billion or 0.6% to $991.2 billion. This followed an increase of 0.7% in February.

Consumer Price Index for all urban consumers decreased 0.2 % in March on a seasonally adjusted basis. The US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that over the last twelve months the all items index increased 1.5 % before seasonal adjustments. Food index was unchanged in March, and the gasoline index decreased 4.4% in March.

The Producer Price Index for finished goods decreased 0.6 % in March, seasonally adjusted, following increases of 0.7% in February and 0.2% in February. Unadjusted basis prices for finished goods increased 1.1 % for the twelve months ended in March 2013, the smallest twelve month increase since a 0.5% rise in July 2012.

Interest rate: Prime at 3.25%, unchanged since 12/16/08.

Inflation: Inflation rate in March reported at 1.5%. The February rate was 2.0%, January rate was 1.6%, and the December rate was 1.7%. The average rate of 2.1% was reported for 2012. It is expected to rise slightly in 2013 to approximately 2.3%.

Industrial production increased 0.4% in March after having increased 1.1% in February. For the first quarter as a whole, output increased at an annual rate of 5.0%m the largest gain since the first quarter of 2012. At 99.5% of its 2007 average, total industrial production in March was 3.5% above its year-earlier level. Capacity utilization rate for total industry increased to 78.5%, a rate 1.2% above the level of a year earlier, but 1.7% below its 1972 – 2012 average.

Unemployment: The March 2013 rate was little changed at 7.6%, and has shown little movement since September 2012. The number of unemployed persons was reported at 11.7 million, basically unchanged. The Bureau of Labor Statistics stated that the long-term unemployed, i.e., jobless for 27 weeks and over was essentially unchanged at 4.6 million in March. Those individuals accounted for 39.6% of the unemployed. North Dakota continued to lead the nation with the lowest state unemployment rate in March of 3.3%; Nevada was reported highest at 9.7%, Illinois, Mississippi, and California close behind.

The goods and services deficit decreased to $43.0 billion in February, from $44.5 billion in January as exports increased more than imports. President Obama recently told his advisory council on exports that the US is on target toward his goal of doubling US exports before 2015. He said that the best way to increase exports is to move ahead with free trade agreements in Asia and Europe.

Crude Oil: Present WTI spot price ~$93/bbl, compared to ~$100+/bbl a year earlier. OPEC outlook continues to show a slight reduction in demand in 2013.

Natural Gas: Henry Hub spot price closed on April 23 at $4.25/MMBTU. May 2013 contract reported at $4.40/MMBTU. Working natural gas in storage is lower than last year and the five year average.

The US dollar trading at 98.0 Japanese yen; $1.30 = euro. The British pound sterling = $1.54. The Canadian dollar trading at US$1.01.

Current US gold price quoted at $1463.60/ounce, down from $1597.00/ounce approximately one month earlier. The record price of $1920/ounce was recorded in September, 2011.