“Last month, I said I was surprised by the size of the gain in December,” Bob Costello, chief economist for the American Trucking Associations , said in a written statement. “Today, I’m not surprised that tonnage fell on a seasonally adjusted basis in January simply due to the fact that December was so strong.”
The trade association has an index to monitor for-hire truck tonnage. The advanced, seasonally adjusted index dropped by 5 percentage points in January, coming off a 6.8 percentage-point gain in December.
The index now stands at 119.4, down from December’s record of 124.4. The freight level in 2000 equals 100 on the index.
During 2011, tonnage increased by 5.8 percentage points compared with 2010. January tonnage was 3.6 percentage points higher than a year prior.
Without seasonal adjustments, the January index was 4.3 percentage points lower than December’s.
“I’m still optimistic about truck tonnage going forward,” Costello said. “In fact, while many fleets said January was normal, they are also saying that February has been pretty good so far.”
Truck tonnage trends are key for the numerous trucking companies and manufacturers that employ thousands in the Triad, such as Epes Transport System andOld Dominion Freight Line (NASDAQ: ODFL). Earlier this month, Old Dominion reported it had a record year in 2011, with revenues rising 27 percent.
Because trucks carry most U.S. freight, the industry is viewed as a barometer of the nation’s economy.SOURCE: