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ATA: TL tonnage took a dip in February

But trade group noted tonnage remains higher versus the same time last year.

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) said its for-hire truck tonnage index declined 2.6% in February after rising a revised 1.6% in January. The trade group pointed out that the index was revised down for January, from 2% to the previously-noted 1.6%.

Still, compared to February of 2017, the index is up 5.7%, ATA noted. For all of 2017, the index increased 3.8% over 2016, the trade group said, and year-to-date, January and February tonnage levels combined are up 7.1% compared to the same two months last year.

“Despite a softer February than January, freight remains robust as exhibited in the year-over-year increase,” noted Bob Costello, ATA’s chief economist. “The drivers of truck freight – personal consumption, factory output and construction – are good, plus the inventory cycle is in favor of motor carriers, so I expect freight tonnage to grow at a decent pace in the months ahead.”

For example, MacKay & Co. noted in its March TEA (short for “truckable economic activity”) report that there’s been “big gains” from 2016 to 2017 in trucking activity that the firm said “appear to be sustainable as we move forward into 2018.”

MacKay said overall TEA shot up to 4.1 in 2017 from 1.6 in 2016, with the biggest gains in investment (up to 5 from negative 0.9), exports (up to 4.6 from 0.3) and imports (up to 4.5 from 1.0)

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