Friday, October 25, 2013

ACC: Chemical Activity Barometer for the 4th quarter is looking up

October Short Term Percent Change
ACC's Chemical Activity Barometer. Note that the blue line (the CAB) 
tends to show the same trend as industrial production, but a little 
bit ahead. 
The American Chemistry Council is the lobbying group for the U.S. chemical industry; their economic team has developed the Chemical Activity Barometer, which they believe acts as a leading economic indicator (i.e. it shows economic activity for the next ~8 months.) For the fourth quarter, it's looking not-so-bad:
“Despite the uncertainty being fueled by political gridlock in Washington, the fundamentals of our economy appear to be healthy,” said Dr. Kevin Swift, chief economist at the American Chemistry Council. This month’s Chemical Activity Barometer is up 0.3 percent and this follows upticks in August and September as well,” he said. 
Though some recent reports have hinted at a slowing of consumer spending, these are likely related to news coming out of Washington, according to Swift. “Production of plastic resins used in consumer applications appears actually to be strengthening, suggesting further gains driven by consumers. This bodes well for retailers as the important holiday shopping season approaches,” he added. 
Other notable benchmarks within the barometer also held strong. Chemical equities continued to outpace the overall market, as measured by the S&P 500 and inventories and new orders expanded, likely restored by a return of business confidence following the end of the government shutdown.
I have been holding the Chemical Activity Barometer at arm's length, because I don't think that it necessarily tracks with chemist employment or even the broader U.S. economy. That said, Bill McBride of Calculated Risk has been paying attention to it... so maybe I should be, too. 

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