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The ATA reported a -4% drop in trucking for the month of January.  It’s not all that alarming given December’s big gain, but the recent decline in rails combined with the drop in trucking means we’ll be keeping a close eye on the transport data in the week’s ahead.    Here’s more from the ATA (via Calculated Risk):

“The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index fell 4.0% in January after surging 6.4% in December 2011.  The latest contraction put the SA index at 119.4 (2000=100), down from December’s record level of 124.4.

ATA recently revised the seasonally adjusted index back five years as part of its annual revision.  For all of 2011, tonnage rose 5.8%, slightly lower than the 5.9% previously reported, and matched 2010’s gain of the same magnitude. The index increased 3.6% from January 2011.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 112.1 in January, which was 3.5% below the previous month.

“Last month I said I was surprised by the size of the gain in December.  Today, I’m not surprised that tonnage fell on a seasonally adjusted basis in January simply due to the fact that December was so strong,” ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said.   Costello noted that December’s increase was the largest month-to-month gain since January 2005.

“I’m still optimistic about truck tonnage going forward.  In fact, while many fleets said January was normal, they are also saying that February has been pretty good so far,” he said. “

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