MACROECONOMY & END-USE MARKETS
Running tab of macro indicators: 10 out of 20
The number of new jobless claims fell by 3,000 to 217,000 during the week ending Nov 4. Continuing claims increased by 2,000 to 1.600 million, and the insured unemployment rate for the week ending Oct 28 was unchanged at 1.2%.
Consumer credit rose $9.1 billion in September (increasing at a 2.2% annual rate) following a one-off $15.8 billion dip in August when loan repayments pulled down the headline balance. The pace of revolving debt growth dropped notably from 13.7% in August to 2.9% in September. Nonrevolving debt, which includes student loans and car loans had declined at a 9.8% pace in August but resumed to growth at a 1.9% pace in September. Separately, the New York Fed data reported credit card delinquencies are rising.
The U.S. trade deficit widened 4.9% (or $2.9 billion) in September to $61.5 billion as imports grew 2.7% and exports grew 2.2%. Exports of goods rose in industrial supplies and materials (including gains in crude oil and other petroleum products), foods, feeds, and beverages (including gains in soybeans and corn), and in other goods. Imports were higher for consumer goods (especially cell phones and household goods), autos and parts (especially passenger cars), capital goods (including computer accessories, aircraft parts, other industrial machinery, and materials handling equipment), and in industrial supplies and materials (largely reflecting a gain in crude oil).
Wholesale inventories rose 0.2% in September but were 1.2% lower than levels a year-ago. Inventories were lower across most categories but higher for autos, lumber, computer equipment, machinery, pharma, groceries, and petroleum. Sales at the wholesale level rose 2.2% in September to a level up 0.9% Y/Y. The wholesale inventories-to-sales ratio fell from 1.36 in August to 1.33 in September.
Oil prices fell to their lowest level in three months on renewed concerns about economic recovery in China and the U.S. Natural gas prices were also lower in the U.S. on record output and forecasts for milder weather through late November. Following three straight weeks of gains, the combined oil and gas rig count fell by seven to 614.
Indicators for the business of chemistry bring to mind a yellow banner.
According to data released by the Association of American Railroads, chemical railcar loadings were down to 30,096 for the week ending Nov 4. Loadings were down 2.2% Y/Y (13-week MA), down (2.1%) YTD/YTD and have been on the rise for 7 of the last 13 weeks.
Chemical wholesale inventories fell 1.2% in September, following a 2.3% decline in August. Sales of chemicals at the wholesale level decreased 0.7%. The inventories-to-shipments ratio was unchanged at 1.11 in September. Inventories were off 12.9% Y/Y while sales were off 7.5% Y/Y.
U.S. chemical exports fell 1.0% in September to a level down 10.0% Y/Y. Exports fell in consumer products, agricultural chemicals, inorganics, bulk petrochemicals, and specialties. Exports of plastic resins rose 2.3% but were down 10.4% Y/Y. Chemical imports fell 3.9% in September and were down 19.3% Y/Y. Imports were down in most categories. The U.S. chemicals trade surplus expanded by $3.2 billion in September.
U.S. production of major plastic resins totaled 7.9 billion pounds in September, down 7.2% M/M, and up 8.9% Y/Y, according to ACC statistics. Year-to-date production was 71.9 billion pounds, up 1.7% Y/Y. Sales and captive (internal) use of major plastic resins rose 6.4% to 8.1 billion pounds in September, a level up 4.7% Y/Y. Year-to-date sales and captive use were 71.2 billion pounds, a 1.3% increase as compared to the same period in 2022.
Note On the Color Codes
Banner colors reflect an assessment of the current conditions in the overall economy and the business chemistry of chemistry. For the overall economy we keep a running tab of 20 indicators. The banner color for the macroeconomic section is determined as follows:
Green – 13 or more positives
Yellow – between 8 and 12 positives
Red – 7 or fewer positives
There are fewer indicators available for the chemical industry. Our assessment on banner color largely relies upon how chemical industry production has changed over the most recent three months.
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