Economy

Trucking experts expect very slow rebound

“The economy has bottomed out, but it is going to be slow going in the months ahead.” That was the consensus of speakers at this week’s annual management conference of the American Trucking Associations, in Las Vegas, says ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello in his weekly newsletter. One of those speakers, Sara Johnson of HIS Global Insight, predicts a contraction of  2.5 percent this year, followed by an increase of 2.0 percent in 2010 and then ...

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Latest report bodes well for freight

More good news for manufacturing. A month ago, Institute for Supply Management data showed that manufacturing grew in August, for the first time since January 2008. ISM reported today that September gave an encore performance. “While the rate of growth moderated slightly when compared to August, the recovery broadened as the number of industries reporting growth increased from 11 to 13,” says ISM’s Norbert J. Ore. “Both new orders and production are growing, but at a ...

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Manufacturing numbers strong for August

Lots of good news for trucking in today’s report from the Institute for Supply Management. Economic activity in manufacturing expanded in August, following 18 consecutive months of contraction, according to the nation's supply executives polled for the latest Manufacturing ISM Report on Business. The August numbers also show the overall economy grew for the fourth consecutive month. "The year-and-a-half decline in manufacturing output has come to an end, as 11 of 18 manufacturing industries are reporting growth when ...

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Small-business lending bounces back

Borrowing money isn’t the best thing for an owner-operator to do in a down economy like this. But if you must – or plan to do so as soon as the recovery becomes more evident – it’s good to know how the market is changing. Small-business lending was dead in the water last year as the credit market collapsed, but CNNMoney.com reports that it’s “managed to heal itself” without help from the federal stimulus funding. “Figuring out ...

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Factories busier in July

Industrial production increased by a half-percent in July, the Federal Reserve announced today. While housing and other indicators with relevance to truck freight have shown twitches of life in recent months, this marked the first monthly increase in this measurement since December 2007 (not counting a hurricane-related rebound in October 2008). The manufacturing component of the index rose 1.0 percent in July. This was mostly due to a tax-revived auto industry, which saw vehicle assemblies jump ...

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Small business still hurting

 If you’ve caught the business news in recent days, you know there have been some positive signs. Home prices and sales, employment and other indicators are looking better, possibly meaning a bottoming out of the downturn. But when it comes to small business and credit, it’s still a mess, reports CNNMoney.com: “Bank lending is down, credit card interest rates are up, and the country's largest small business lender, CIT Group ... is hanging by a thread.” ...

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Putting safety news in context

 The good report last week on 2008’s highway fatality numbers, including truck-related deaths, was a bit incomplete because of the highly unusual drop in vehicle miles traveled (VMT, in government-speak). Of course, that decline was due to months of outrageous fuel prices during late 2008. The press release from the American Trucking Associations conveniently failed to mention that factor, even though it did cite increased use of safety belts and the hours of service regs that ...

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Some bright spots in the supply chain

If you’re looking for good news, this morning’s report from the Institute for Supply Management has some: The overall economy grew in June. Warehouses are emptying out, which is good for trucking. Manufacturing failed to grow last month, though its rate of contraction is slowing. And seven of 18 industries did report growth to ISM: petroleum and coal products; printing and related support activities; wood products; nonmetallic mineral products; miscellaneous manufacturing; chemical products; and primary metals.  “Most ...

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Building permits among leading indicators

Today’s report on the Leading Economic Indicators is good news. It “increased sharply for the second consecutive month in May,” says The Conference Board. The strong points include some fiscal things, like interest rates and stock prices, but the positive freight-related items were building permits and, more indirectly, vendor performance and consumer expectations. “The index rose 1.2 percent (a 2.4 percent annual rate) between November 2008 and May 2009, the first time the index has increased over ...

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Prices: Down for truckload, up for diesel

If you’re thinking of getting your own authority for truckload hauling, think again. Or have some excellent contracts locked up before you jump. A June 8 conference call, hosted by Dahlman Rose & Co. with executives from five carriers (Cowan Systems, Fenway Partners, First Express and Roehl Transport), had little good news. “There was universal agreement that we are experiencing one of the worst pricing marketing in truckload history,” says Dahlman’s summary of the conference. The pressure ...

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