The growth rate of industrial electricity usage predicts future stock returns up to 1 year with an R 2 of 9%. High industrial electricity usage today predicts low stock returns in the future, consistent with a countercyclical risk premium. Industrial electricity usage tracks the output of the most cyclical sectors. Our findings bridge a gap between the asset pricing literature and the business cycle literature, which uses industrial electricity usage to gauge production and output in real time. Industrial electricity growth compares favorably with traditional financial variables, and it outperforms Cooper and Priestley’s output gap measure in real time.
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