US chemical activity barometer rises by 0.9% in January

22 January 2013 18:22  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS)--A US chemical activity indicator rose by 0.9% from December, indicating a sixth consecutive monthly gain that hints at acceleration for the housing market, according to rounded figures provided by the American Chemistry Council (ACC) on Tuesday.

The Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB), a monthly index developed by ACC economists, rose to 92.4 from 91.6 a month ago. The index is 3.1% higher than 89.6 a year ago.

In addition, the barometer’s January three-month moving average rose to 91.5 from December's 91.2%, indicating sustained growth, the ACC said. January’s average was also an increase from 89.0 in January 2012.

“Recent data from the Commerce Department is bearing out what the CAB has been indicating for many months now – that an increasingly solid housing market continues to show signs of momentum and a return to normalcy,” said Kevin Swift, the ACC’s chief economist.

The ACC estimates each housing start represents about $15,000 (€11,250) of chemistry, and the US Department of Commerce reported a 12.1% increase in housing starts in December.

“Throughout last year and into this year, we continue to see an acceleration of activity in construction-related plastic resins, coatings, pigments and other chemistry related to the building and construction industry.”

During January, the ACC reported growing activity in production, chemical company equities and prices. Inventories remained flat or indicated insignificant growth in activity.

Chemical products contribute to 96% of all manufactured goods, according to the ACC. The CAB’s early chain in supply provides a lead to business cycle peaks and troughs and can help identify trends in related sectors such as housing, automobiles and retail.

By: Tracy Dang
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