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ATA: Truck tonnage dipped in November

A “glut of inventories throughout the supply chain” blamed in part for the decrease in freight hauled by trucks, trade group’s chief economist says.

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) for-hire truck tonnage index slumped 0.9% in November, after rising 1.8% during October, largely due to declines in manufacturing and energy sector activity combined with “a glut” of inventories, according to Bob Costello, the organization’s chief economist explained.

“Tonnage gave back half of the gain in October highlighting weakness in factory output and new fracking activity, as well as a glut of inventories throughout the supply chain” Costello said in a statement. “With year-over-year gains averaging just 1.2% over the last three months, there has been a clear deceleration in truck tonnage.”

Compared with November 2014, the tonnage index is up 0.2%, though that is the smallest year-over-year gain since February 2013. Year-to-date through November, compared with the same period last year, tonnage is up 2.7%, Costello noted.

In a separate report, Lindsey Piegza – chief economist at Stifel Fixed Income – noted that existing home sales fell a “whopping” 10.5% in November, significantly more than expected, with year-over-year home sales down nearly 4%.

New home construction also declined from a 5.32 million to a 4.76 million unit build pace – the slowest pace since April 2014, she added.

“For the second consecutive month, existing home sales have slowed, falling below a 5 million unit pace for the first time since February,” Piegza said in a statement. “At this point, with momentum in home sales waning, will a rising rate environment further exacerbate a slowdown in activity? After all, higher rates will eventually translate into higher financing costs for the consumer.”

Looking ahead, ATA’s Costello noted the he “remains concerned” about the high level of inventories throughout the supply chain.

“We recently learned that inventories throughout the supply chain and relative to sales rose in October,” he pointed out. “This will have a negative impact on truck freight volumes over the next few months.”

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