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Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Ceridian-UCLA: Diesel Fuel index decreases in February

by Calculated Risk on 3/09/2011 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 2000.

Press Release: February PCI Continues to Signal Slow Growth

The Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index™ (PCI), issued today by the UCLA Anderson School of Management and Ceridian Corporation fell 1.5% on a seasonally and workday adjusted basis in February, after falling 0.3% in January. The PCI in the first two months of 2011 has now given up all of December’s exceptional 1.8% gain. Because of the very strong performance in December, however, the three month annualized moving average in the index was still up 5.4% over the previous three month period. Furthermore, February marked the 15th consecutive month of year-over-year growth in the index. Both of these data points suggest that the economic recovery is intact, but it remains tepid.
Over time, the PCI has shown a strong correlation with Industrial Production and with the goods components of GDP. The PCI results over the past two months suggest a small decline in industrial production in February when that data is released by the Federal Reserve on March 17.
The February daily data were impacted by the massive snowstorm that was centered in the heavily-trucked Midwest early in the month. However, the daily data also suggests that much of the volume that was “lost” during the first week of the month was “found” later in the month, meaning that weather was not the major reason for the decline in the PCI this month.
February’s spike in fuel prices likely did not contribute to weakness in the PCI this month. However, if the trend persists, higher prices will likely have an impact in the coming months as consumers are robbed of spending power. As a leading indicator for shipping and production, the PCI is very sensitive to this dynamic and should provide an early indication as higher fuel prices impact the broader economy.
The Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index™ is based on real-time diesel fuel consumption data for over the road trucking ...
This index was useful in tracking the slowdown last summer and the back-to-back monthly declines in this index are concerning. The rail traffic reports have shown a shift to intermodal traffic (more rail traffic using shipping containers) and that might be negatively impacting the diesel fuel index.

Note: This index does appear to track Industrial Production over time (with plenty of noise) and this suggests a weak reading for February. Industrial Production for February will be released March 17th.