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‒ Barometer up 2.8 percent year over year on 3 month-moving average (3MMA) –
‒ Subpar expansion constrained by uncertainty surrounding fiscal cliff –
WASHINGTON (December 18, 2012) – The American Chemistry Council (ACC) today released its Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB), a leading economic indicator derived from a composite index of chemical industry activity. The December CAB (3MMA) remained stable, showing no change over last month. This followed four consecutive monthly gains.
“Recent data indicate slightly slower activity in construction-related plastic resins, coatings, and pigments, but the longer-term trend seems to suggest that the recovery in housing will continue,” said Dr. Kevin Swift, chief economist at ACC. “More new homes are being built today than since July 2008, and each housing start represents more than $15,000 of chemistry,” Swift noted.
The business of chemistry is a $760 billion enterprise and one of America’s most significant manufacturing industries, with more than 96 percent of all manufactured goods touched by products of chemistry.
Plastic resins used in consumer and institutional applications were stable, suggesting further gains in retail sales consistent with the holiday season.
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 1947, 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 United States.
Notes to Editors
The CAB was developed by the economics department at ACC. 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.
The CAB’s three-month moving average (3 MMA) remained stable in December, following four consecutive monthly gains. This continues to suggest steady but slow growth prospects for 2013. The October and November CAB was revised downward from last month’s report, by 0.1 percent and 0.3 percent, respectively.
Of its key indicators, chemical company equities were up, while production, inventories and product/selling prices were flat.
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. 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 1947, it has been shown to provide a longer lead (or perform better) than the National Bureau of Economic Research, by two to 14 months, with an average lead of eight months. The median lead was also eight months. At business cycle troughs, the CAB leads by one to seven months, with an average lead of three months. The median lead was also three months. The CAB is rebased to the average lead (in months) of an average 100 in the base year (the year 2007 was used) of a reference time series. The latter is the Federal Reserve’s Industrial Production Index.
The chemistry industry is one of the largest industries in the United States, generating $760 billion. The manufacturing sector is the largest consumer of chemical products, and 96 percent of manufactured goods are touched by chemistry.
The next CAB is currently planned for: January 22, 2013 | 9:00 a.m. EST.
The CAB is designed and prepared in compliance with ACC’s Antitrust Guidelines and FTC Safe Harbor Guidelines; does not use company-specific price information as input data; and data is aggregated such that company-specific and product-specific data cannot be determined.
Note: Every effort has been made in the preparation of this publication to provide the best available information. However, neither ACC, nor any of its employees, agents or other assigns makes any warranty, expressed or implied, or assumes any liability or responsibility for any use, or the results of such use, of any information or data disclosed in this material.