The U.S. economy continues to improve, with forecasts now suggesting economic expansion into 2015, according to the American Chemistry Council's (ACC) monthly Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB).
The barometer increased 0.4 percent over August on a three-month moving average basis and is up 3.3 percent over a year ago, with the index itself at its highest point since June 2008.
Prior barometer readings for April through August were all revised.
The Chemical Activity Barometer is a leading economic indicator, shown to lead U.S. business cycles by an average of eight months at cycle peaks, and four months at cycle troughs.
“This 0.4 percent jump is a real improvement in growth dynamics from the smaller, yet steady, increases we saw from March through August,” says Dr. Kevin Swift, chief economist at the American Chemistry Council.
He adds: “The Chemical Activity Barometer is showing a strengthening of some fundamentals, with forecasts remaining positive. Indeed, there is potential for upside surprises in the U.S. economy.”
Swift notes that continued improvements in construction-related plastic resins, coatings, pigments, and other chemistry are likely to continue, though at a moderated pace, suggesting that the rapid gains typically seen early in a recovery have given way to a slower pace of growth.
Production of plastic resins used in consumer and institutional applications continues to grow at a strong pace, with the potential for even greater acceleration, officials say.
Chemical equities far outpaced the benchmark S&P 500, according to the report, rising about 1.3 times faster. Downstream inventory, new orders, and production also improved.
About the Chemical Activity Barometer
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.