Friday, December 21, 2012

ATA Trucking Index rebounds in November

by Bill McBride on 12/21/2012 02:52:00 PM

This is a minor indicator that I follow. Truck tonnage was negatively impacted by Hurricane Sandy in October, and bounced back in November.

From ATA: ATA Truck Tonnage Index Rebounds 3.7% in November

The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index jumped 3.7% in November erasing October’s 3.7% drop. (The 3.7% decrease in October was revised from a 3.8% contraction ATA reported on November 20, 2012.) November’s gain was the first since July of this year. As a result, the SA index equaled 118.0 (2000=100) in November versus 113.8 in October. Compared with November 2011, the SA index was up 1%, after contracting 2.1% on a year-over-year basis in October. Year-to-date, compared with the same period last year, tonnage was up 2.8%.
...
“Sandy impacted both October’s and November’s tonnage readings,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said. “But it was still good to see tonnage snap back in November.” Costello said he expects a boost to flatbed tonnage from the rebuilding in the areas impacted by Sandy, but most of that won’t happen until the spring when the money starts flowing and the weather is conducive to building.

“Outside of Sandy, if the fiscal cliff isn’t fixed in time, expect a slowdown in tonnage early next year as paychecks shrink for all households,” Costello said. “Since trucks account for the vast majority of deliveries in the retail supply, any reduction in consumer spending will hurt.” Costello added that even if we don’t go off the fiscal cliff, he expects slower tonnage growth in 2013 than 2012 as better housing starts and auto sales will be offset by slower factory output and consumer spending.
emphasis added
Note from ATA:
Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 67% of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 9.2 billion tons of freight in 2011. Motor carriers collected $603.9 billion, or 80.9% of total revenue earned by all transport modes.
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.

Overall the index has been mostly moving sideways this year due to the slowdown in manufacturing.

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