U.S. Chemical Activity Barometer continues strong performance with eighth consecutive gain
The Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB), a leading economic indicator created by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), featured another solid gain of 0.3 percent in November, following a gain of 0.3 percent in October and a 0.4 percent gain in September and August
Accounting for adjustments, the CAB is up 4.2 percent over this time last year, a marked increase over earlier comparisons and the greatest year-over-year gain since August 2014. All data is measured on a three-month moving average (3MMA). On an unadjusted basis the CAB climbed 0.3 percent in November, following a 0.2 percent gain in October.
The Chemical Activity Barometer has four primary components, each consisting of a variety of indicators: 1) production; 2) equity prices; 3) product prices; and 4) inventories and other indicators.
In November, three of the four core categories for the CAB improved. Production-related indicators, equity prices, and inventory were positive, while product prices were stable at best.
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 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.
Applying the CAB back to 1912, it has been shown to provide a lead of two to fourteen months, with an average lead of eight months at cycle peaks as determined by the National Bureau of Economic Research. The median lead was also eight months. At business cycle troughs, the CAB leads by one to seven months, with an average lead of four months. The median lead was three months. The CAB is rebased to the average lead (in months) of an average 100 in the base year (the year 2012 was used) of a reference time series. The latter is the Federal Reserve’s Industrial Production Index.
The CAB comprises indicators relating to the production of chlorine and other alkalies, pigments, plastic resins and other selected basic industrial chemicals; chemical company stock data; hours worked in chemicals; publicly sourced, chemical price information; end-use (or customer) industry sales-to-inventories; and several broader leading economic measures (building permits and new orders). Each month, ACC provides a barometer number, which reflects activity data for the current month, as well as a three-month moving average. The CAB was developed by the economics department at the American Chemistry Council.