The American Chemistry Council (ACC) reported that its Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB) rose 1.2% in March on a three-month moving average basis following a 1.0% increase in February. On a year-over-year basis, the barometer rose 5.5% in March.
The unadjusted data show a 1.2% gain in March following a 0.9% gain in February. The diffusion index rebounded to 82% in March, well above the long-term average of 58%, ACC said. The diffusion index marks the number of positive contributors relative to the total number of indicators monitored. The CAB reading for February was revised upward by 0.18 points and the reading for January was revised downward by 0.57 points. The March data are provisional and subject to revision, ACC noted.
“The latest CAB reading is consistent with solid expansion of commerce, trade and industry into the fourth quarter,” said Kevin Swift, Chief Economist at ACC.
The CAB has four main components with a variety of indicators: production, equity prices, product prices and inventories and other indicators. In March, production-related indicators were positive. Trends in construction-related resins and related performance chemistry were solid and suggest further expansion past the weak February home sales and housing starts.
Resins and chemistry used in other durable goods were strong. Plastic resins used in packaging and for consumer and institutional applications were positive. Performance chemistry for industry was mixed. U.S. exports were positive, while equity prices showed further gains. Product and input prices were positive, as were inventory and other supply chain indicators.
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