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Truck tonnage shows continued strength in November

The for-hire truck tonnage index showed continued strength in November, keeping the current year on pace to be the strongest since 1998. 

American Trucking Associations reported Dec. 18 its advanced seasonally adjusted index was  7.6% higher than November 2017. It was also 0.4% above October’s level of 118.4, which was revised down slightly from its initial reading.

“The fact that tonnage rose in November after a strong October is impressive. It was likely due to some continued pull forward of shipments from China due to the threat of higher tariffs, as well as solid retail sales last month,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said in a statement.

Year-to-date tonnage is 7.2% higher when compared with the first 11 months of 2017.  ATA also said the not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by fleets, was 119 in November, down 3.1% below the previous month.

A look at the for-hire truck tonnage index.

In a separate announcement, research firm FTR said its shippers conditions index for October improved to a reading of -2.1, a sign "the worst may well be over for shippers.”

FTR said with rates stabilizing and diesel fuel prices moderating, this might be "the best environment in more than a year.” Todd Tranausky, FTR’s vice president of rail and intermodal, said the more positive outlook for shippers "is expected to be maintained through the first half of 2019 baring an external shock to the supply chain.”

Meanwhile, the Federal Open Market Committee is widely expected to raise interest rates for the fourth time during 2018 on Dec. 19 at the conclusion of its two-day meeting.

The Federal Reserve has promised to raise rates to keep the U.S. economy from overheating. However, President Trump has been critical of the Fed’s policy decisions and urged the group not to “make yet another mistake."

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