Contact Us

Jennifer Scott
(202) 249-6512

WASHINGTON (July 28, 2020) – The Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB), a leading economic indicator created by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), rose 2.7 percent in July on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis following a 0.1 percent gain in June. On a year-over-year (Y/Y) basis, the barometer fell 8.9 percent in July.

The unadjusted data show a 1.3 percent gain in July following a 3.4 percent gain in June and a 3.6 percent gain in May. The diffusion index rose to 41 percent. The diffusion index marks the number of positive contributors relative to the total number of indicators monitored. The CAB reading for June was revised upward by 1.36 points and the May reading was revised upward by 1.40 points.

“With three consecutive months of gains, the latest CAB reading is consistent with recovery in the U.S. economy,” said Kevin Swift, chief economist at ACC.  

The CAB has four main components, each consisting of a variety of indicators: 1) production; 2) equity prices; 3) product prices; and 4) inventories and other indicators.

Production-related indicators were mixed in July. Despite improvement in new home sales, housing starts and building permits, trends in construction-related resins, pigments and related performance chemistry were soft. Reflecting a recovery in light vehicles and other industries, resins and chemistry used in durable goods were mixed. Plastic resins used in packaging and for consumer and institutional applications were mixed. Performance chemistry strengthened, while U.S. exports were mixed. Equity prices gained, and product and input prices strengthened. Inventory and other supply chain indicators turned positive.

The CAB is a leading economic indicator derived from a composite index of chemical industry activity. Due to its early position in the supply chain, chemical industry activity has been found to consistently lead the U.S. economy’s business cycle, and the barometer can be used to determine turning points and likely trends in the broader economy. Month-to-month movements can be volatile, so a three-month moving average of the CAB reading 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 14 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.

CAB Chart072820

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 reflecting activity data for the current month, as well as a three-month moving average. The CAB was developed by the Economics Department at ACC.

Current-month, unadjusted readings of the CAB are based on high-frequency weekly and daily data. For example, we use equity data as of the Thursday before the release date. Using mid-month data can lead to large revisions if conditions appreciably change in the second half of the month. We have moved the release dates for the CAB to the last Tuesday of each month. We hope this will minimize the revisions.

For the full data set, please visit https://www.americanchemistry.com/CAB-vs-Industrial-Production/. The next CAB is planned for August 25, 2020 at 9:10 a.m. ET.

###

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: ACC has strived to prepare this publication to provide the best available information. However, neither the American Chemistry Council, 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.

News

News & Resources

View our resource center to find press releases, testimonies, infographics and more.

Jobs