The American Trucking Associations (ATA) announced this morning that its advanced Seasonally Adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index “jumped” 1.2% in June. That comes after the Index fell 1.0% in May. ATA noted that May’s loss was larger than the 0.7% drop it had initially reported (on June 19.)
ATA stated that June’s increase was the largest month-to-month gain in 2012. On the other hand, the Index contracted a total of 2.1% in April and May.
The latest gain increased the SA index to 119.0, which was up from May’s level of 117.5. Compared with June 2011, the SA index was 3.2% higher, marking the smallest year-over-year increase since March 2012.
Year-to-date, compared with the same period last year, tonnage was up 3.7%.
For the second quarter, the SA Index was off 0.8% from the previous quarter, which was the first decrease in a year. Compared with the second quarter in 2011, the Iindex was up 3.5%.
ATA also pointed out that its Not Seasonally Adjusted Index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 123.0 in June-- 0.9% below the previous month.
“June’s increase was a pleasant surprise, but the lower year-over-year gain fits with an economy that has slowed,” said ATA chief economist Bob Costell. “Manufacturing output was strong in June, which helped tonnage levels.”
Costello noted that he is still concerned about “businesses sitting on cash instead of hiring more workers or spending it on capital, both of which would give the economy and tonnage a shot in the arm, as they are worried about Europe and the U.S. fiscal cliff at the end of the year.”
Given recent economic weakness, Costello accordingly lowered his tonnage outlook for 2012 to the 3% to 3.5% range.
Jefferies & Co. analyst Peter Nesvold observed that ATA's Index increased in June at its slowest year-over year (YoY) pace in three months..”and that..“this is consistent with the recent sluggishness in the overall economy. Meanwhile, our channel checks suggest that truckload loads in early July were flat to slightly down YoY, which was in line with the softness that our contacts experienced in May and June.”
ATA calculates its Tonnage Index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. It noted that this is a preliminary figure and subject to change in the final report issued around the 10th day of the month. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons, and key financial indicators.