The chart above shows the Chemical Barometer Activity index for the past 8 years. The recent uptick is significant.
The chart above shows the index going back to 1960. It tracks overall economic activity pretty closely.
The index also appears to do a good job of leading the growth in industrial production, and by inference, the overall economy. For more detailed information, see Calculated Risk.
Truck tonnage, shown in the chart above, has also picked up this year. The February spike had looked a bit anomalous, but the May reading confirms that activity has picked up over the course of the year. Chemical activity and truck tonnage both track actual physical activity in the economy, and both are pointing to improvement.
The chart above compares truck tonnage with the inflation-adjusted S&P 500 index. Both look on track for further gains.