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posted on 20 July 2017

Trucking Data Again Continues Mixed In June 2017 But Growth Suggested

Written by Steven Hansen

Headline data for truck shipments were again mixed in June - but our analysis believes trucking growth rate is modestly improving.

Analyst Opinion of Truck Transport

I tend to put heavier weight on the CASS index which again showed a moderate improvement year-over-year. The ATA data continues to wander all over the map - and is likely a result of seasonal adjustment issues and a smaller share of shipping now going to ATA members.

It is also interesting that the current trucking employment pattern is now showing a short term improvement trend which supports the CASS index.


ATA Trucking

American Trucking Associations' advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index fell 4.3% in June, following a 6.9% gain during May. In June, the index equaled 138.5 (2000=100), down from 144.7 in May. Said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello:

After such a large spike in May, it was not surprising to see the index give back some of those gains in June. However, looking back at the second quarter as a whole, tonnage was up 0.8% over the first quarter and 1.9% over the same quarter last year, so it was a solid three month period.

June's slide does not change my belief that we will continue to see moderate, albeit at times choppy, growth in truck tonnage as the year continues.

ATA Truck tonnage this month

z truck.jpg

Compared with May 2016, the SA index increased 1.3 % year-over-year.

Econintersect tries to validate ATA truck data across data sources. It appears this month that jobs growth says the trucking industry employment levels were down month-over-month. Please note using BLS employment data in real time is risky, as their data is normally backward adjusted (sometimes significantly).


This data series is not transparent and therefore cannot be relied on. Please note that the ATA does not release an unadjusted data series (although they report the unadjusted value each month - but do not report revisions to this data) where Econintersect can make an independent evaluation. The data is apparently subject to significant backward revision. Not all trucking companies are members of the ATA, and therefore it is unknown if this data is a representative sampling of the trucking industry.

source: ATA


CASS FREIGHT INDEX REPORT

Not only have both the Shipments and Expenditures Indexes have now been positive for six months in a row, but they are showing accelerating strength. Throughout the U.S. economy, there is a growing number of data points suggesting that the economy continues to get slightly better. Some data points are simply less bad, but an increasing number of them are better, and even a few are becoming outright strong. The 4.8% YoY increase in the June Cass Shipments Index is yet another data point which confirms that the first positive indication in October was a change in trend. In fact, it now looks as if the October 2016 Cass Shipments Index, which broke a string of 20 months in negative territory, was one of the first indications that a recovery in freight had begun.

Although not as strong on a nominal basis as May (which hit 1.168), the nominal value of 1.163 is higher than the level attained in June of 2015, which is very promising.

z truck1.PNG

Source: http://www.cassinfo.com/Transportation-Expense-Management/Supply-Chain-Analysis/Cass-Freight-Index.aspx


FTR's Trucking Conditions Index for April Bounces Back to Mid-Positive Range

FTR's Trucking Conditions Index (TCI) for April bounced back to a reading of 7.03, up more than four points from March. As detailed in the June issue of the Trucking Update, FTR expects industry conditions to improve despite current y/y weakness in contract pricing. Freight demand is moving higher as the industrial sector continues to improve with capacity tightening. The first quarter of 2017 registered the second strongest freight growth of the current recovery. The balance of 2017 is expected to grow more modestly. FTR forecasts the Trucking Conditions Index may fall off somewhat from the April reading in the next few months, but it is expected to remain in mid-range positive territory through 2018.

source: http://www.ftrintel.com/news/latest-tci/index.php



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