Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Ceridian-UCLA: Diesel Fuel index declines in October, "Signals Weaker Holiday Season"

by Bill McBride on 11/09/2010 09:00:00 AM

This is the new UCLA Anderson Forecast and Ceridian Corporation index using real-time diesel fuel consumption data: Pulse of Commerce IndexTM

Pulse of Commerce Index Click on graph for larger image in new window.

This graph shows the index since January 1999.

This is a new index, and doesn't have much of a track record in real time, although the data suggests the recovery has had a "time out" since May.

Press Release: Over the Road Trucked Shipping Decline Signals Weaker Holiday Season, Reports Latest Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index™

The Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index™ (PCI), a real-time measure of the flow of goods to U.S. factories, retailers, and consumers, fell 0.6 percent in October following a decline of 0.5 percent in September and a decline of 1.0 percent in August. The three consecutive month decline is the first since January 2009, when the U.S. was still deep in recession. The negative month-over-month trajectory for October, typically a peak month for America’s trucking industry, may also prelude a disappointing holiday season, indicating retailer wariness about future sales prospects.

“The October data begins the fourth quarter on a down note. October is also an especially important siren for the holiday season,” said Ed Leamer, chief PCI economist and director of the UCLA Anderson Forecast.
...
“We have had a recovery ‘time out,’” summarized Leamer. “Since May’s peak, trucking has receded 8.3 percent. Fortunately, the full stew of economic information does not appear to foretell a double dip in the coming. Rather, the economic malaise that set-in this summer is still very much with us.”

With the three-to-one relationship between the PCI and GDP growth in recessions and recoveries, the 4.1 percent annualized growth figure translates to 1.3 percent forecasted growth for GDP. PCI results need to reach 10 to 15 percent year-over-year growth for a truly healthy job market. The declines in the PCI also suggest further slowing in the Federal Reserve's monthly Industrial Production (IP) index (to be released later this month), and anticipate a month-over-month IP decrease of 0.16 percent.
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The Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index™ is based on real-time diesel fuel consumption data for over the road trucking ...
I'm not confident in using this index to forecast GDP growth, although it does appear to track Industrial Production over time (with plenty of noise).

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