ATA tonnage index up in December, 2012

The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index rose 2.8% in December after jumping an upwardly revised 3.9% in November. The back-to-back increases in November and December were by far the best of gains of 2012, ATA says. Even so, compared with December 2011, the seasonally adjusted index declined 2.3% — the worst year-over-year performance since November 2009. For all of 2012, tonnage was up 2.3% over 2011, which in turn was 5.8% higher than 2010.

“December was better than anticipated in light of the very difficult year-over-year comparison,” says ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. He expects sluggishness in the index in 2013. “As paychecks shrink for all households due to higher taxes, I’m expecting a weak first quarter for tonnage and the broader economy” Costello says. “Since trucks account for the vast majority of deliveries in the retail supply chain, any reduction in consumer spending will have ramifications on truck tonnage levels.”

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