Chemical sector barometer signals continuing US growth in 2014

26 November 2013 15:52  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--The US economic recovery should continue into the new year, a key chemicals sector survey said on Tuesday, with slow but continued growth through 2014.

In its monthly chemical activity barometer (CAB), the American Chemistry Council (ACC) said that indicators point to “steady and disciplined growth for the coming year”.

The council said that the CAB index for November rose by a slim 0.1 percentage points to 93.6 from the October reading of 93.5 on the three-month moving average basis.

“The CAB remains up 2.8% over a year ago and is still at its highest point since June 2008,” the council said.

The CAB combines data from a range of chemicals and sectors, including production of chlorine and other alkalis, pigments, plastic resins and other basic industrial chemicals.

The barometer also factors in chemical company stock data, hours worked in chemicals manufacturing and publicly available chemicals pricing and inventories. Broader data sets, such as housing starts and new orders for general manufactured goods, also are included, according to the ACC.

Because chemicals hold an early position in the nation’s supply chain, developments in the industry can presage activity in the broader economy. The council has said that the CAB has been shown to lead US business cycles by an average of eight months at cycle peaks.

ACC chief economist Kevin Swift noted that while there has been some recent moderation in US growth, “production-related indicators have improved, equity prices remain strong and US exports are recovering as the recession in Europe finally ends”.

“In the run-up to the holiday season, retail sales have remained healthy, showcasing the correlation between sales and the consumption of polyethylene resins used in packaging,” he said.

In addition, “with real incomes rising, employment improving and affiliated wealth effects, there is room for additional growth in this sector”, Swift added.

“All of this points to steady and disciplined growth for the coming year,” he said.

Paul Hodges studies key influences shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy

By: Joe Kamalick
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