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The leading indicator for the chemical industry rose for the third consecutive month in January. Chemical industry production, which had been down for two months, gained 1% in January, and overall manufacturing output was up a more modest but still healthy, 0.4%. Production of durable goods rose 0.3%, while nondurables advanced 0.5%, paced by rapid gains in paper and chemicals.
The indicator's advance was fueled by strong gains in industrial production for the chemical process industries and a sharp spurt in new home construction, analysts say. Output in the chemical process industries rose 1.1% for the month. Building materials, petroleum refining, and nonferrous metals had particularly strong gains.
The remaining components of the leading indicator were relatively weak. Chemical stocks sagged in January, and there was little strength in the relevant new orders data. Orders for nondurables as a group were down 0.6%, while gains in orders for construction materials and supplies and for consumer durables partially offset …