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The U.S. petrochemical industry is continuing to leverage its competitive advantage, utilizing cheap ethane feedstock it has access to and taking advantage of the growing manufacturing sector, according to a new report by market research and consultancy specialist Business Monitor International (BMI).

The report found that U.S. ethylene output in the first half of 2013 was higher than in the same period last year, keeping production above the average of more than 24 million tons per year. During the second quarter of 2013, about 8 percent of the national capacity was shut down because of a heavy turnaround schedule but producers still managed to maintain overall supply.

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For the second half of 2013, BMI projects that ethylene capacity utilization will reach an average level of 87 percent, which in turn is expected to bring output back to the higher levels recorded in the first quarter of the year. Over the period from July to December U.S. demand for ethane is set to grow again, as cracker turnarounds will have been completed and manufacturers will expand processing capabilities once again.

Meanwhile, the American Chemistry Council said that its Chemical Activity Barometer showed growth of 3.8 percent year-on-year and 0.1 percent month-on-month in August 2013. The index also revealed that the total major plastic resins output came in at 44.5 billion pounds in January-July 2013, representing a 1.5 percent increase compared to the same period in 2012.