The Chemical Activity Barometer (CAB), a leading economic indicator created by the American Chemistry Council (ACC), rose 0.1% in March on a three-month moving average (3MMA) basis, the first gain in five months. On a year-over-year (Y/Y) basis, the barometer is down 0.3% (3MMA).

The unadjusted measure of the CAB rose 0.3% in March, following six months of shrinking activity. It declined 0.1% in February and had a flat reading in January. The diffusion index rebounded to 65% in March, up from 57% in February. A year earlier, it was 71%. The diffusion index marks the number of positive contributors relative to the total number of indicators monitored.

“The CAB continues to indicate gains in U.S. commercial and industrial activity through mid-2019, but at a markedly slower rate of growth, as measured by year-earlier comparisons,” said Kevin Swift, chief economist.

Production-related indicators in March were mixed. Trends in construction-related resins, pigments and related performance chemistry were mixed and suggest further slowing in housing activity. Plastic resins used in packaging and in consumer and institutional applications were slightly positive. Performance chemistry and U.S. exports were mixed. Equity prices slumped, while product and input prices rose. Inventory and other indicators were positive.

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