Class 8 vehicle net orders fulfill weak expectations

The American Trucking Associations’ advance seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index jumped 3.1% in January 2010 following a revised 1.3% increase in December 2009. The latest gain boosted the SA index from 107 (2000=100) in December to 110.4 in January, its highest level since September 2008. The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 99.5 in January, down 3.3% from the previous month.

ATA recently revised the seasonally adjusted index back five years as part of its annual revision.

Compared with January 2009, SA tonnage surged 5.7%, which was the best year-over-year reading since January 2005 and the second consecutive increase. For all of 2009, the tonnage index was down 8.7% (slightly more than the previously reported 8.3% drop), which was the largest annual decrease since a 12.3% plunge in 1982.

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said the latest tonnage reading, coupled with anecdotal reports from carriers, indicates that both the industry and the economy are clearly in a recovery mode.

“While I don’t expect tonnage to continue growing as robustly as it did in January, the industry is finally moving in the right direction,” he said. “Although there are still risks that could throw the rebound off track, the likelihood of that happening continues to diminish.”

ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. This is a preliminary figure and subject to change in the final report issued around the 10th day of the month. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons, and key financial indicators.

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