Tuesday, January 22, 2013

ATA Trucking Index increases 2.8% in December

by Bill McBride on 1/22/2013 06:11:00 PM

This is a minor indicator that I follow.

From ATA: ATA Truck Tonnage Index Jumped 2.8% in December

The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 2.8% in December after surging 3.9% in November. (The 3.9% gain in November was revised from a 3.7% increase ATA reported on December 18, 2012.) The back-to-back increases in November and December were by far the best of gains of 2012. As a result, the SA index equaled 121.6 (2000=100) in December versus 118.3 in November. Despite the solid monthly increase, compared with December 2011, the SA index was off 2.3%, the worst year-over-year result since November 2009. For all of 2012, tonnage was up 2.3%. In 2011, the index increased 5.8%.
...
“December was better than anticipated in light of the very difficult year-over-year comparison,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said. In December 2011, the index surged 6.4% from the previous month. Costello anticipates more sluggishness in the index this year, especially early in the year, as the economy continues to face several headwinds.

“As paychecks shrink for all households due to higher taxes, I’m expecting a weak first quarter for tonnage and the broader economy” Costello said. “Since trucks account for the vast majority of deliveries in the retail supply chain, any reduction in consumer spending will have ramifications on truck tonnage levels.”
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. The spike down in October was related to Hurricane Sandy.

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