US truck tonnage takes small step back in July

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ARLINGTON, Va. — US for-hire truck tonnage dipped 0.4% in July, marking the first decline since April.

The small decline came on the heels of a 0.1% increase in June. June 2013 posted the highest tonnage on record, according to American Trucking Associations data.

Tonnage was up 4.7% year-over-year in July. The ATA characterized July’s tonnage as “robust,” but added it was the smallest year-over-year gain seen since April.

Year-to-date, US for-hire truck tonnage is up 2.7% compared to 2012.

“After gaining a total of 2.2% in May and June, it isn’t surprising that tonnage slipped a little in July,” ATA chief economist Bob Costello said. “The decrease corresponds with the small decline in manufacturing output during July reported by the Federal Reserve last week.”

He added: “Despite the small reprieve in July, we expect solid tonnage numbers during the second half of the year as sectors that generate heavy freight, like oil and gas and autos, continue with robust growth. Home construction generates a significant amount of tonnage, but as mortgage rates and home prices rise, growth in housing starts will decelerate slightly in the second half of the year, but still be a positive for truck freight volumes. Tonnage gains in the second half of the year are likely to overstate the strength in the economy as these heavy freight sectors continue to outperform the economy overall.”

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