Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Can Truckers Haul Us out of Recession?

Here's an article with a positive forcast for our industry
Can Truckers Haul Us Out of Recession?
By William Trent

At least one part of our economy has good news to offer. According to the American Trucking Associations, February's seasonally adjusted truck tonnage index was its highest level in more than two years. Its 3.5% increase from February 2007 marked the index's fourth consecutive year-over-year increase.

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello found February's reading encouraging, saying, "The fact that truck tonnage did not lose any of January's robust 2.4-percent gain is quite positive."

Does truckers' good news signal an end to the U.S. recession, even before most economy watchers have admitted it's begun? Costello noted that truck tonnage typically leads general economic activity. "Truck tonnage rebounded in 2001, for example, just as the aggregate economy was slipping into a recession."

Truckers: Harbingers of recovery?
There's good evidence to suggest that transportation is a leading indicator for the entire economy. For one thing, anything you buy at a store had to get there from the factory. Even online sales require a truck to get the product from the warehouse to your door.

The link was historically so strong that it became the centerpiece of Dow Theory, which suggests that positive or negative moves in industrial stocks are more relevant when they are "confirmed" by similar moves in transportation stocks. I'll say one thing: Trucking tonnage certainly provided an early warning to the downside, with the index peaking in early 2007.

Whether you believe in Dow Theory or not, the latest tonnage index is at least a modestly positive indicator for trucking companies.

Moving forward,

Jeff Roach

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