June truck tonnage is solid, reports ATA

The ATA’s advanced seasonally-adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index fell 0.4%, to 113 (2015=100) from May to June, following a 0.4% April to May increase.On an annual basis, the SA was up 7.8%, which is ahead of May’s 7.4% annual gain. And on a year-to-date basis, SA is up 7.9%, which tops last year’s 3.8% annual increase for the same period.

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Truck tonnage readings for the month of June were somewhat mixed, according to data issued today by the .

The ATA’s advanced seasonally-adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index fell 0.4%, to 113 (2015=100) from May to June, following a 0.4% April to May increase.

On an annual basis, the SA was up 7.8%, which is ahead of May’s 7.4% annual gain. And on a year-to-date basis, SA is up 7.9%, which tops last year’s 3.8% annual increase for the same period.

The ATA’s not seasonally-adjusted (NSA) index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by fleets before any seasonal adjustment and the metric ATA says fleets should benchmark their levels with, came in at 116.3 in June, which was below May’s 117.6.

As defined by the ATA, the NSA index is assembled by adding up all the monthly tonnage data reported by the survey respondents (ATA member carriers) for the latest two months. Then a monthly percent change is calculated and then applied to the index number for the first month.

“In the second quarter, we saw the tonnage index jump 1.8% from the previous quarter and 8.4% from a year earlier,” said  in a statement. “This robust growth fits with what is likely to be a very strong GDP reading for the second quarter. I expect the growth in tonnage to moderate, but remain at very high levels in the months ahead.”

Speaking on a recent conference call hosted by investment firm , Costello said that there are a few drivers of the current solid freight activity, including consumer spending, construction activity, manufacturing activity, and inventory levels throughout the supply chain.

“[L]ooking at the over-the-road TL and LTL markets, I like to look at factory output,” he said. “2018 is shaping up to be the highest level of production since 2007, and 2019 should be the highest on record. If we look at year-over-year growth rates, we're going to go essentially no growth in the sector from 2015 and 2016 to 2.8% growth this year and over 3% growth next year.”

recently told LM that the current freight market is the strongest he has seen in his 27-year career, adding that when thinking about the strength of the market, seasonality has to be factored into the equation.

“January through March usually being a slower period, and it has been anything but that this year,” he said. “It really…started around mid-year last year and has just continued to build. We saw virtually no drop-off at all from the fourth quarter to the first quarter, with freight activity remaining strong through the year this far. We are very bullish on what we are seeing and very excited.

As for what the key drivers are, Leathers the combination of economic lift and just a stronger economy with capacity still being constrained, both through the combination of ELD (electronic logging devices), and the general driver shortage, as well as inventory levels coming in lower than they have in recent years.


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