Dow Chemical

(DOW) - Get Report

reported a 30% increase in first-quarter earnings Thursday, easily beating Wall Street estimates as sales volumes and prices for many of its products jumped.

The Midland, Mich.-based company and the No. 2 chemical maker in the U.S. behind

DuPont

(DD) - Get Report

said it earned $415 million, or $1.83 a diluted share, vs. $319 million, or $1.47 a diluted share the previous year. The consensus Wall Street estimate was $1.65 a share, according to

First Call/Thomson Financial

.

Shares of Dow closed up 3 7/16, or 3%, to 109.

Dow said earnings were helped by higher prices for many of its products, which partly offset increasing costs for raw materials and energy.

A sharp increase in sales volumes also strengthened earnings. Recovering demand outside of the U.S. helped catapult sales by 26% in the Asia Pacific region, 12% in Europe and 10% in Latin America.

Dow's revenue surged 22% to $5.38 billion from $4.42 billion in first-quarter 1999. Specifically, 10% of the growth was due to higher volumes sold, while 12% was attributable to higher prices.

By segment, sales volumes from Dow's performance plastics group were up 14%, performance chemicals sales volume was up 21%. Agricultural-related sales dropped by 8%, while hydrocarbon and energy sales were up 68%.

Dow Chemical is in the process of buying Danbury Conn.-based

Union Carbide

(UK)

in a deal expected to close by the end of the second quarter.