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Focus on consumer markets, including ag chemicals, boosts Dow

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Dow Chemical delivered rising sales and adjusted profit, helped in part by a drive to focus on consumer products, such as its agricultural chemical segment.

Excluding acquisitions, Dow volumes grew by 3%.

"These gains were driven by Dow's continued portfolio shift toward growing consumer end-markets," the company said, with sales in the agricultural segment up 5%.

The move marks a shift in focus, given that a little over a year ago Dow was mooting the sale of the segment.

But since then Dow has agreed to a tie-up with the seed and chemical group DuPont, which will see the combined ag-segment of the two companies spun out into the worlds biggest agrichemicals group.

'Gains continue in Brazil'

Dow chief executive Andrew Liveris was upbeat on economic prospects, including in the key agricultural region of Latin America, with "slow but stable gains continuing in Brazil".

Mr Liveris, who has been appointed by the US President to lead an advisory group on manufacturing, was upbeat about the new US leadership.

"We are seeing early signs of positive economic momentum, with the United States in expansionary mode, driven by the ongoing strength of the consumer and the tailwind of a new incoming administration promising structural reforms," Mr Liveris said.

Shareholder support for merger

Dow said "significant progress" had been made in completing its planned merger with DuPont.

The deal had received "overwhelming" shareholder support Dow said.

DuPont on Tuesday said that the merger could take slightly longer than previously thought, and is now likely to be closed in the first half of 2017.

Sales beat expectations

Across the company Dow reported a net loss of $33m in the last three months of 2016, compared to a profit of $3.53bn a year ago

Excluding one-off effects, including a $1.1bn charge accounting for the way legal costs associated with defending against asbestos claims are recorded, Dow's operating profits rose 6.5% year-on-year, to 99 cents a share.

The company's net sales rose to 13.6%, to $13.02bn beating analysts' average estimate of $12.38 billion.

By William Clarke

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