A quick update: Last month I had a post titled "Chemical activity continues to increase" that was well-received since it is not commonly followed. The latest data, released today, continue to show improvement and the observations I made last month still hold. Here are some updated charts:
The CAB index is up 4.1% in the past year, for the best showing in the past two years. This suggests that the oil production slump is washing out of the data and cheaper oil prices are resulting in stronger production of related chemicals.
The year-over-year change of the 3-month moving average of the index is now up to 3.7% and a similar measure of industrial production is showing an uptick as well, and that is in line with historical experience - with chemical activity tending to lead industrial production.
I'm not convinced any of these points to a significant acceleration of economic growth. But it does argue convincingly that the economy is not turning down or slumping. Most likely, it just means that the economy is still growing slowly but on the margin it is doing slightly better.
For more detailed information, see Calculated Risk.