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Bottoming Process Underway?

| December 2, 2019

We continue to see plenty of evidence that points to inventory building ahead of tariffs

The latest release of ACT’s For-Hire Trucking Index, with October data, showed a modest Volume Index, at 52.0 (SA). October’s slower growth followed a sharply stronger 59.6 in September. The Pricing Index returned to negative territory in October, at 45.8 (SA), after recovering with volumes in September, at 52.5.

Kenny Vieth, ACT Research’s President and Senior Analyst commented, “The freight industry improvement has not been broad-based in the past few months, and we continue to see plenty of evidence that points to inventory building ahead of tariffs as a key driver of recent performance, though strong consumer trends are also helping.” He added, “With still-aggressive private fleet growth and a weak US manufacturing sector, choppy results will likely continue, but the past few months suggest a bottoming process is underway.”

In a reflection of the imbalance between demand for freight services and the supply of Class 8 trucks competing for freight, Pricing Index shows the path to rising profitability is not yet apparent. Regarding the Rate Index, Vieth said, “After collapsing in Q2, the pricing environment stabilized in the past few months. October’s lowest-since-June print suggests that pressure from capacity growth persists in the near to mid-term. That said, spikes in freight volumes, akin to what occurred in September, could perhaps lift rates on a one-off basis again, ahead of threatened tariffs in December.”

Category: Featured, General Update, Management, News

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