The economic reports last week were largely positive. Personal incomes rose and helped propel consumer spending to a new level. A rebound in consumer confidence bodes well for further gains. Construction spending rose to its highest level in almost five years although weak new homes sales provided a blemish on otherwise spotless string of positive indicators.
Manufacturing in Texas gathered strength and nationwide the robust performance continues. The ISM report suggests an industrial sector growing at a good pace at the end of the 4th quarter. Moreover, a wider gap between new orders and inventories bodes well for manufacturing in the 1st quarter.
Global manufacturing ended 2013 on a positive note, with output rising at the fastest pace in almost three years. Final demand and inventory dynamics are supporting production and based on new order levels, production gains will continue going into 2014.
Turning to chemistry, there was more widespread strength among special chemical markets. The railcar loadings data suggest further improvement although the ISM report indicated that the chemical industry was weak in December.
The running tab of positive indicators for the status of the macroeconomy was 17 out of 20 last week. For the business of chemistry, the indicators bring to mind a green banner for basic and specialty chemicals.