Two months of pleasant surprises for US truck tonnage

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The American Trucking Association’s advance seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index rose 0.8% in October, after rising a revised 1.8% in September.

Year-over-year, tonnage hauled climbed a seasonally adjusted 6%, compared to the 5.3% gain in September.

October tonnage levels were the highest in three months, even after seasonal changes were accounted for, according to the ATA.

“This is a pleasant surprise. It shows the economy has legs, even if it’s not strong yet,” said Bob Costello, ATA’s chief economist. “Perhaps things aren’t as bad as people might have thought.” Costello said the gains registered in the last two months correspond to healthier manufacturing and retail sectors.

The ATA had reported a 2.7-point decline in the index in August, its biggest monthly drop in nearly a year-and-a-half.

Last month, year-to-date tonnage was up 6.1% compared with the same period in 2009, the ATA said.

The numbers reflect recent changes in the retail transport sector. The traditional autumn freight season, where tonnage hauled peaks in October as retailers stock up for the holidays, has spread out over a few months in reaction to consumer spending patterns, according to the ATA.

The September gain put the index at 108.7 with 2000 used as the base year.

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