Truck Tonnage Index slips 0.2 percent in June

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American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted for-hire Truck Tonnage Index slipped 0.2 percent in June, following a revised 0.7 percent increase in May, underscoring recent soft patches in the production of some commodities, especially steel.

On a seasonally adjusted basis, the index fell to 114.8 from 115.0 in May. However, June’s index was 0.3 percent higher than a year earlier. In May, the index was 1.2 percent above May 2004.

For the first six months of the year, the index was 2.7 percent higher than the same period in 2004 but below ATA’s 2005 forecast range of 3.0 percent to 3.5 percent.

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said June’s tonnage drop was unexpected because most economic indicators rose during the four-week period. Production of some heavy products like steel and chemicals, however, experienced weakness that may have contributed to diminished freight volumes.

Costello said truckload carriers, which represent more than 95 percent of for-hire tonnage, experienced the bulk of the freight softness. However, both truckload and less-than-truckload carriers continued to report large revenue gains in recent months, he said.

On a not-seasonally adjusted basis, the index increased 3.2 percent from May to 120.7. May’s not-seasonally adjusted reading also was revised to 116.9.

ATA calculates the Truck Tonnage index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. The base year for the index is 2000.