Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Chemical Activity Barometer Increased Slightly in May

by Calculated Risk on 5/21/2019 04:07:00 PM

Note: This appears to be a leading indicator for industrial production.

From the American Chemistry Council: Chemical Activity Barometer Shows Third Monthly Gain in May

The Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB), a leading economic indicator created by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), rose 0.4 percent in May on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis, the third monthly gain after several weak months. On a year-over-year (Y/Y) basis, the barometer is up 0.5 percent (3MMA).
...
"Year-earlier comparisons have turned positive in recent months, and while trade tensions, slowing economic growth overseas, and soft economic reports in the U.S. have created uncertainty that has weighed on business investment, the CAB signals gains in U.S. commercial and industrial activity through mid-2019, albeit at a moderate pace,” said Kevin Swift, chief economist at ACC. “There is some possibility of improving activity in the closing months of the year.”
...
Applying the CAB back to 1912, it has been shown to provide a lead of two to fourteen 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.
emphasis added
Chemical Activity Barometer Click on graph for larger image.

This graph shows the year-over-year change in the 3-month moving average for the Chemical Activity Barometer compared to Industrial Production.  It does appear that CAB (red) generally leads Industrial Production (blue).

The year-over-year increase in the CAB suggests that the YoY increase in industrial production will probably slow further.