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Weekly Transportation Update: Consumer inflation falls m/m for the first time in just over four years

 

In June, inflation was mild at both the consumer and producer levels, with consumer prices declining month-over-month for the first time since May 2020. This was mainly due to falling gasoline and diesel prices. Truck insurance premiums also decreased after more than a year of gains. Additionally, new applications for transportation and warehousing businesses saw their largest increase since August 2022, alongside recent gains in new trucking authorities. This suggests the truck freight market has bottomed out.


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Weekly Transportation Update: U.S. adds 206,000 payroll jobs as the unemployment rate rises to 4.1%

 

In June, employment showed stability with slower growth and slight revisions from previous months. Job openings remained high, surpassing pre-pandemic levels by about 1 million. Trucking industry employment held steady overall, despite declines in sectors like truckload and local specialized trucking. Economic indicators across sectors varied, highlighting ongoing challenges and adjustments post-pandemic.


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Weekly Transportation Update: Real consumer spending rises in May after downward revisions.

Economic indicators were mixed this week with an increase in real consumer spending, no change in non-automotive retail inventories, lackluster new orders for durable manufactured goods, and a sharp drop in sales of new homes.

The week also brought some notable developments at the two major parcel carriers and a safety oversight report on last year’s train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.

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Weekly Transportation Update: Manufacturing output rises in May and is basically flat y/y

The industrial and consumer sectors saw decent performances in May, but the housing sector remained quite weak as both construction and sales declined. Manufacturing output posted a solid gain. Retail sales barely moved in nominal terms, but a significant issue was pricing for consumer commodities, which declined 0.2% m/m in May.

Another pricing move in the latest week was not so encouraging for freight transportation as diesel prices rose for the first time in 10 weeks.

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Weekly Transportation Update: May sees no inflation at either the consumer or producer level

Inflation in April was nonexistent for consumers while pricing within the supply chain declined m/m. Despite “modest further progress” toward achieving the target of 2% inflation, the Federal Reserve held interest rates steady at this week’s meeting.

Closer to the freight sector, two pricing developments were especially notable. Pricing for freight brokers rose sharply in May while prices for commercial auto insurance premiums has accelerated. Carriers and shippers are seeing some relief, however, as diesel prices fell for a ninth straight week..

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Weekly Transportation Update: U.S. adds 272,000 payroll jobs in May; unemployment ticks up

In May, the U.S. economy showed mixed signals. It added 272,000 payroll jobs, but job openings hit their lowest since February 2021. Manufacturing weakened, as seen in the ISM index. On the positive side, real international trade in goods rose in April, and mortgage rates dipped below 7%. Diesel prices fell for the eighth week, while for-hire trucking lost 5,400 jobs despite increased CDL hiring. Truck spot rates stayed stable, and the rail sector saw growth in most carload commodities and year-over-year intermodal growth..

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Weekly Transportation Update: Real consumer spending on goods falls in April

Consumer spending in April experienced a decline, primarily driven by reduced expenditures on goods. This coincided with a slight downward revision in Q1 GDP growth. Despite the dip in consumer spending, retail inventories saw an increase in April. Meanwhile, mortgage rates have edged back above 7%, and diesel prices have dropped to their lowest levels since July 2023. Additionally, the population of for-hire carriers saw a minor decrease in May.

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Weekly Transportation Update: Sales of new and existing homes decline in April

Sales of both new and existing homes declined in April versus March, but the difference in y/y performance was notable as the steady declines in existing-home sales during 2023 and increases in new-home sales in early 2023 have largely ended.

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Weekly Transportation Update: Industrial production and retail sales were flat in April versus March

In April, manufacturing output experienced a decline, while nominal retail and food service sales remained flat. There was a slight recovery in housing starts during the same period. Mortgage rates decreased for the second consecutive week, while consumer pricing was supported by shelter and gasoline costs. Producer-level pricing saw an increase in April, despite diesel prices falling for the fifth consecutive week. Truck spot rates eased as Roadcheck approached, and rail traffic remained robust except for coal shipments. A Canadian rail strike was postponed pending investigation, and Robert Primus was appointed as the STB chairman.

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Weekly Transportation Update: Wholesale sector sales decline more than inventories in March

In March, economic indicators presented a mixed outlook. Wholesale sales dropped more sharply than inventories, possibly indicating oversupply or reduced demand. Both real exports and imports of goods declined, likely influenced by global trade dynamics and supply chain disruptions. New jobless benefits claims surged, reflecting ongoing labor market challenges. However, mortgage rates fell for the first time in six weeks, potentially boosting home buying. Diesel prices continued their decline, aiding transportation-dependent industries, while refrigerated truck spot rates surged due to increased demand for cold chain logistics. CDL hiring rebounded from a December lull. Despite challenges, total rail traffic increased year-on-year, suggesting resilience in transportation. These varied trends underscore the complexity of today's economic landscape.

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