"This 0.4% jump is a real improvement in growth dynamics from the smaller, yet steady, increases we saw from March through August," said Dr. Kevin Swift, chief economist at the American Chemistry Council. "The Chemical Activity Barometer is showing a strengthening of some fundamentals, with forecasts remaining positive. Indeed, there is potential for upside surprises in the U.S. economy.”
Dr. Swift noted that continued improvements in construction-related plastic resins, coatings, pigments and other chemistry are likely to continue, though at a moderated pace, suggesting that the rapid gains typically seen early in a recovery have given way to a slower pace of growth. Production of plastic resins used in consumer and institutional applications continues to grow at a strong pace, with the potential for even greater acceleration.
Chemical equities far outpaced the benchmark S&P 500; rising about 1.3 times faster, while downstream inventory, new orders, and production also improved.
The Chemical Activity Barometer is a leading economic indicator derived from a composite index of chemical industry activity. The chemical industry has been found to consistently lead the US economy's business cycle given its early position in the supply chain, and this barometer can be used to determine turning points and likely trends in the wider economy. Month-to-month movements can be volatile so a three-month moving average of the barometer is provided. This provides a more consistent and illustrative picture of national economic trends.
The CAB was developed by the economics department at the American Chemistry Council.