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Chemical Activity Barometer Up For Sixth Consecutive Month

Fri, 01/25/2013 - 12:13pm

WASHINGTON — The American Chemistry Council’s (ACC) monthly Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB) released today showed sustained growth, notching a 0.4 percent gain over December 2012 on a three month moving average (3MMA) basis. The year over year 3MMA showed a solid 2.8 percent gain over January 2012. The CAB is a leading economic indicator derived from a composite index of chemical industry activity. January marked the CAB’s sixth consecutive monthly gain. 

“Recent data from the Commerce Department is bearing out what the CAB has been indicating for many months now – that an increasingly solid housing market continues to show signs of momentum and a return to normalcy,” said Dr. Kevin Swift, chief economist at the American Chemistry Council. Data released last week by the U.S. Department of Commerce showed seasonally adjusted nationwide housing starts rising 12.1 percent in December. “The chemical industry’s early position in the supply chain uniquely positions the CAB against other economic indicators,” added Swift. “Throughout last year and into this year we continue to see an acceleration of activity in construction-related plastic resins, coatings, pigments and other chemistry related to the building and construction industry.” Each housing start represents more than $15,000 of chemistry.

The business of chemistry is a $760 billion enterprise and one of America’s most significant manufacturing industries, with more than ninety-six percent of all manufactured goods touched by products of chemistry.

Plastic resins used in consumer and institutional applications also showed signs of growth, suggesting further likely gains in retail sales and consumer spending. 

The chemical industry’s early position in the supply chain uniquely positions the CAB against other economic indicators. The CAB provides a long lead for business cycle peaks and troughs and can help identify emerging trends in the wider U.S. economy within sectors closely linked to the business of chemistry such as housing, retail and automobiles. Applying the CAB back to 1919, it has been shown to lead the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) cycle dates, by two to 14 months, with an average lead of eight months. NBER is the organization that provides the official start and end dates for recessions in the U.S. 

The CAB was developed by the economics department at the American Chemistry Council. The chemical industry has been found to consistently lead the U.S. 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’s three-month moving average (3MMA) increased 0.4 percent in January, following an upward revision of December’s 3MMA. The CAB has now increased six consecutive months, suggesting a slowly expanding U.S. economy steady but slow growth prospects for 2013. 

Of its key indicators, chemical company equities, production, and product/selling prices were up, while inventories were flat. 

Chemical Activity Barometer for the Latest Six Months and Year-Ago Month

 

Jan-12

Aug-12

Sep-12

Oct-12

Nov-12

Dec-12

 Jan-13

  

 

      

CAB

 

89.6

89.8

91.0

91.3

90.7

91.6

92.4

% M/M

 

0.6

0.2

1.3

0.3

-0.8

1.0

0.8

% Y/Y

 

0.1

1.5

3.1

3.5

2.6

2.8

3.1

  

 

      

CAB (3 MMA)

89.0

89.5

90.2

90.7

91.0

91.2

91.5

% M/M

 

0.5

0.2

0.7

0.6

0.3

0.2

0.4

% Y/Y

 

0.1

0.4

1.5

2.7

3.0

3.0

2.8

*Percentage changes may not reflect index values due to rounding.


The American Chemistry Council (ACC) represents the leading companies engaged in the business of chemistry.  ACC members apply the science of chemistry to make innovative products and services that make people's lives better, healthier and safer.  ACC is committed to improved environmental, health and safety performance through Responsible Care, common sense advocacy designed to address major public policy issues, and health and environmental research and product testing.  The business of chemistry is a $760 billion enterprise and a key element of the nation's economy.  It is one of the nation’s largest exporters, accounting for twelve cents out of every dollar in U.S. exports.  Chemistry companies are among the largest investors in research and development.  Safety and security have always been primary concerns of ACC members, and they have intensified their efforts, working closely with government agencies to improve security and to defend against any threat to the nation’s critical infrastructure.

Learn more at http://www.americanchemistry.com/.

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