Monthly tonnage index up year over year 4.1%

The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index was unchanged in July after increasing 1.1 percent in June. In July, the adjusted index stayed at 118.8.

Compared with July 2011, the adjusted index was 4.1 percent higher, which was the largest year-over-year gain since February. Year-to-date, compared with the same period last year, tonnage was up 3.7 percent.

The nonseasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 119.4 in July, which was 2.8 percent below the previous month.

“July’s reading reflects an economy that has lost some steam, but hasn’t stalled,” said Bob Costello, ATA chief economist. “Certainly there has been some better economic news recently, but I continue to believe we will see some deceleration in tonnage during the second half of the year, if for nothing else but very tough comparisons on a robust August-through-December period in 2011.”

Costello said he believes the slowdown in new factory orders will constrain manufacturing output, which will impact truck freight volumes. Additionally, he is concerned about the recent jump in the total business (manufacturing, wholesale and retail) inventory-to-sales ratio.

“Unintended gains in inventories will hit trucking negatively as the supply chain works off stocks,” said Costello, who kept his tonnage outlook for 2012 to the 3 percent to 3.5 percent range.

ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons and key financial indicators. The baseline year is 2000.

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