US soda ash production in June down 5.8% to 944,000 tons, but increased 4.4% year-over-year; June stocks increased 10.4% month-on-month to 328,000 tons, according to ACC review of US Geological Survey

Sample article from our Chemicals Industry

August 25, 2023 (press release) –

4.4% New Home Sales
5.0% Chemical Railcar Loadings (Y/Y)
5.2% Durable Goods Orders

Running tab of macro indicators: 14 out of 20 

The number of new jobless claims fell by 10,000 to 230,000 during the week ending August 19. Continuing claims fell by 9,000 to 1.70 million, and the insured unemployment rate for the week ending August 12 was down at 1.1%. 

Existing home sales fell 2.2% in July to 4.07 million SAAR, the slowest pace since January and down 16.6% Y/Y. It was the fourth decline in the past five months. Existing home sales have been choked by historically lean inventories which were off 14.6% Y/Y. At the end of July, the inventory of unsold homes edged higher, representing a 3.3-month supply at the current sales pace. As supplies remain tight, the median sales price rose 1.9% Y/Y. Homeowners locked into low mortgage rates are reluctant to move. 

With historically low inventories of existing homes, new home sales rose 4.4% in July, with the largest gains in the Midwest and West. The inventory of new homes also rose, up 1.1%. At the current sales pace, that represents a 7.3-month supply, slightly lower than in June and considerably lower than the 10.1 month supply last July. The median sales price fell 8.7% Y/Y.

Following a 4.4% gain in June, new orders for durable goods fell 5.2% in July. The decline was led by sharply lower orders for aircraft, which tend to be choppy. Declines in orders for computers and related products were only partially offset by gains in other categories including, motor vehicles, metals, machinery, and communications equipment. Core business orders edged 0.1% higher following a 0.4% decline in June. Headline orders were up 3.2% Y/Y while core business orders were up just 0.6% Y/Y.

Oil prices edged lower this week on weak economic news from several major economies. U.S. natural gas prices were down from a week ago despite a lower-than-expected inventory build. The gas storage surplus has narrowed to the single digits (9.5% above the five-year average). The combined oil and gas rig count fell by 11 to 637, the lowest level since March 2022.

Indicators for the business of chemistry bring to mind a red banner. 

According to data released by the Association of American Railroads, chemical railcar loadings were up 5.5% to 31,602 for the week ending 19 August. Loadings were down 5.0% Y/Y (13-week MA), down 3.7% YTD/YTD and have been on the rise for 8 of the last 13 weeks. 

The U.S. Geological Survey reported production of soda ash was down 5.8% to 944 thousand tons in June, a level up 4.4% Y/Y. Stocks rose 10.4% over May to 328 thousand tons by the end of the month, an 11-day supply. Ending stocks were up 44.5% Y/Y.

Note On the Color Codes

The banner colors represent observations about the current conditions in the overall economy and the business chemistry. For the overall economy we keep a running tab of 20 indicators. The banner color for the macroeconomic section is determined as follows:

Green – 13 or more positives
Yellow – between 8 and 12 positives
Red – 7 or fewer positives

For the chemical industry there are fewer indicators available. As a result, we rely upon judgment whether production in the industry (defined as chemicals excluding pharmaceuticals) has increased or decreased three consecutive months.

For More Information

ACC members can access additional data, economic analyses, presentations, outlooks, and weekly economic updates through ACCexchange.

In addition to this weekly report, ACC offers numerous other economic data that cover worldwide production, trade, shipments, inventories, price indices, energy, employment, investment, R&D, EH&S, financial performance measures, macroeconomic data, plus much more. To order, visit

Every effort has been made in the preparation of this weekly report to provide the best available information and analysis. However, neither the American Chemistry Council, nor any of its employees, agents or other assigns makes any warranty, expressed or implied, or assumes any liability or responsibility for any use, or the results of such use, of any information or data disclosed in this material.

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American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council’s mission is to advocate for the people, policy, and products of chemistry that make the United States the global leader in innovation and manufacturing. To achieve this, we: Champion science-based policy solutions across all levels of government; Drive continuous performance improvement to protect employees and communities through Responsible Care®; Foster the development of sustainability practices throughout ACC member companies; and Communicate authentically with communities about challenges and solutions for a safer, healthier and more sustainable way of life. Our vision is a world made better by chemistry, where people live happier, healthier, and more prosperous lives, safety and sustainably—for generations to come.



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