Inventories steady at lean levels
The ratio of inventories to sales in the economy remained 1.27 in January following a slight upward revision in the December 2011 ratio, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The ratio now has been at 1.27 for six straight months and has remained barely higher than the all-time low of 1.25, which was achieved in March 2011 as well as in late 2005 and early 2006. Continuation of lean inventories relative to sales suggests normal shipment levels in the near term for trucking companies.
Manufacturing orders growth slows
(Above 50%:generally expanding)
The February index declined 2.7 points below the January level, suggesting continued growth in freight shipments but at a slower rate than in January. The composite PMI stood at 52.4% – 1.7 points lower than in January.
Truck loadings rise in February
(Seasonally Adjusted: 2000=100)
Truck loadings were up 0.42% in February from January, according to the FTR Loadings Index published monthly by transportation forecasting firm FTR Associates. Compared to February 2011, the FTR Loadings Index is up 2.11%.
Trailer and container loads for U.S. railroads were up 2.4% in February over February 2011.
Rail carloads were down 1.9%.
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Trucking adds 10,200 jobs in February
The for-hire trucking industry added 10,200 new payroll workers in February – the most in a single month since February 2011, according to preliminary figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Over the most recent three months, trucking has added more than 20,000 payroll jobs, according to BLS estimates. Payroll employment is up by 47,300, or 3.7%, from February 2011 and up by 97,300, or 7.9%, from the bottom in March 2010. Employment remains 121,900, or 8.4%, below the peak in January 2007.
The American Trucking Associations’ advance seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index fell 4.0% in January after surging 6.4% in December 2011.
Industrial production was unchanged in February after having risen 0.4% in January, the Federal Reserve reported. Manufacturing output rose 0.3% in February.
The Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index rose 0.7% in February on a seasonally and workday adjusted basis following a 1.7% decrease in January.
Trucking company sentiment reading
As part of the Randall-Reilly MarketPulse survey, Randall-Reilly Market Intelligence in February launched the Carrier Sentiment Index – a monthly reading on how executives at for-hire carriers view the month’s business conditions in a continuum from the worst month ever to the best month ever. February’s reading is 5.87. What does that mean? Not much by itself, but over time we’ll see whether the index rises or falls. For the record, the index level for carriers with more than 100 power units was slightly higher at 5.91 than for those with 10 to 100 power units, which reported an index level of 5.76.
5.87 in February