COMMODITY / CHEMICAL BRIEFS

COMMODITY / CHEMICAL BRIEFS

AIR PRODUCTS WILL TAKE

$135 MILLION CHARGE

ALLENTOWN, Pa. - Air Products & Chemicals Inc. will take a $60 million pretax charge for the write-down of several small business units, including ones that make ammonium nitrate fertilizer pellets and epoxy.

The company, based here, also will take a $55 million pretax charge related to absorb the cost of severance pay being offering to the 7 percent to 10 percent of company employees who face layoff over a two-year period.

WHEAT COUNCIL EXPECTS

LARGER WORLD CROP

LONDON - The International Wheat Council Thursday revised its forecast of world 1993-94 (July-June) wheat production at 575 million metric tons, up 2 million tons from a previous forecast for 1993-94 of 573 million tons.

The council estimates world wheat production in 1992-93 at 562 million tons.

The council now pegs world 1993-94 wheat consumption at 567 million metric tons, unchanged from its previous forecast, but up from 558 million tons for 1992-93.

It sees world 1993-94 wheat trade at 93 million tons, down from its previous forecast of 96 million, and down from 103 million for 1992-93.

It pegs end-season 1993-94 wheat stocks at 137 million tons, down 1 million tons from its last forecast, but up from 129 million tons in 1992-93.

AUGUST MILL COTTON USE

HIGHEST IN US SINCE '44

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - U.S. textile mills consumed a record amount of cotton for any August since 1944, the earliest year for which the National Cotton Council has mill-use records, said Melanie Gordon, NCC's senior market analyst.

August's seasonally adjusted annualized rate was 10.375 million bales, down marginally from July's revised 10.398 million, according to NCC figures.

"It's a very good August," Ms. Gordon said. "It's very strong."

Mill use typically rises in August when compared with the previous month

because mills traditionally close in July during the week of the U.S. Independence Day holiday.

"Actual consumption rose 16 percent in August, compared to July," Ms. Gordon said. "The drop in the annualized rate is due to the seasonal adjustment factor."

W.R. GRACE TO EXPAND

ASIA-PACIFIC OPERATIONS

HONG KONG - W.R. Grace & Co., a specialty chemicals company, said it was investing about US$250 million in its Asia-Pacific operations to expand business and more than double sales in the region in five years to over US$700 million.

''Our expansion will involve the establishment of new plants and factories around the region," Noel Lee, president of Grace Asia Pacific, said Wednesday.

Focus will be on six core businesses: flexible packaging, construction products, container products, catalysts, water treatment and specialized health care products, he said.

The company has 43 offices and plants in 14 countries and employs more than 1,700 people throughout the Asia-Pacific region.

CHINESE SUGAR IMPORTS

DOWN BY NEARLY 50 PERCENT

LONDON - China's raw sugar imports between September 1992 and July 1993 totaled 522,000 metric tons, compared with 1.123 million tons imported during the same period a year before, German Statistician F.O. Licht said.

In September-July, China imported 367,000 tons from Cuba, 140,000 tons

from Australia and 15,000 tons from Fiji. In July alone, China imported 49,661 tons, all from Cuba, it said.