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Industry Outlook

The chemicals industry remained in growth mode during the second half of 2019, according to an American Chemistry Council (ACC) forecast. While exports had been negatively impacted by trade disputes and slower economic growth in other parts of the world, creating a trade surplus, the industry was benefiting from domestic growth. The energy industry, specifically, was a bright spot for American chemistry companies as capital investment connected to natural gas and natural gas liquids production increased. Following decades of decline, expanding capacity in the petrochemical market was reflected in 330 new projects that had been announced by mid-2019. Collectively worth $204 billion, the ACC explained that 40 percent of these projects were still in the planning stage, while 53 percent were underway or completed. Capital spending was expected to rise 5.4 percent in 2019, 4.9 percent in 2020, and total $43 billion by 2024. The ACC's outlook varied by industry sector. The most significant output gains were occurring in the inorganic, organic, and other specialty chemicals categories.

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