Tuesday, January 24, 2012

ATA Trucking Index increased sharply in December

by Bill McBride on 1/24/2012 01:15:00 PM

From ATA: ATA Truck Tonnage Index Posts Largest Annual Gain in 13 Years

The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index jumped 6.8% in December after rising 0.3% in November 2011. The latest gain put the SA index at 124.5 (2000=100) in December, up from the November level of 116.6.

For all of 2011, tonnage rose 5.9% over the previous year – the largest annual increase since 1998. Tonnage for the last month of the year was 10.5% higher than December 2010, the largest year-over-year gain since July 1998. November tonnage was up 6.1% over the same month last year.
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“While I’m not surprised that tonnage increased in December, I am surprised at the magnitude of the gain,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said.
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“Not only did truck tonnage increase due to solid manufacturing output in December, but also from some likely inventory restocking. Inventories, especially at the retail level, are exceedingly lean, and I suspect that tonnage was higher than expected as the supply chain did some restocking during the month.” he said.
ATA Trucking Click on graph for larger image.

Here is a long term graph that shows ATA's For-Hire Truck Tonnage index.

The dashed line is the current level of the index. This index stalled early in 2011, but increased sharply at the end of the year. From ATA:
Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 67.2% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 9 billion tons of freight in 2010. Motor carriers collected $563.4 billion, or 81.2% of total revenue earned by all transport modes.
All current Transportation Graphs

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