The number of freight shipments and the dollars spent on freight have been in a typical seasonal decline since September 2015. Our shipment index opened the year just 0.2 percent below last January, while the expenditures index is down 1.4 percent. The economy grew much more slowly in the second half of 2015, so January freight shipments are down 11.6 percent and dollars spent are down 11.5 percent from the June 2015 high. The declines in the fourth quarter and again in January are normal seasonal trends and are not necessarily signs of further weakening.
News / Industry News
The Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI), which is based on the amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry, fell 0.4 percent in December from November, declining for the second consecutive month, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS). The December 2015 index level (121.0) was 27.8 percent above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession.
“The U.S. LEI fell slightly in December, led by a drop in housing permits and weak new orders in manufacturing,” said Ataman Ozyildirim, Director of Business Cycles and Growth Research at The Conference Board. “However, the index continues to suggest moderate growth in the near-term despite the economy losing some momentum at the end of 2015. While the LEI’s growth rate has been on the decline, it’s too early to interpret this as a substantial rise in the risk of recession.”
Import cargo volume at the nation’s major retail container ports is expected to decline year-over-year for the next few months but the first half of the year should still amount to a 4.5 percent increase compared with the same period last year, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker report released today by the National Retail Federation and Hackett Associates.
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 151,000 in January, and the unemployment rate was little changed at 4.9 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. Job gains occurred in several industries, led by retail trade, food services and drinking places, health care, and manufacturing.
Economic activity in the manufacturing sector contracted in January for the fourth consecutive month, while the overall economy grew for the 80th consecutive month, say the nation’s supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM® Report On Business®.
The Port Authority of NY/NJ has reported that full operations at Port of NY and NJ are restored. Gates opened as scheduled this morning 2/1/16, however a service advisory from the Port Authority website, reflects notifications of potential truck and roadway congestion: “as a reminder, in order to keep traffic flowing on the roadways and for the safety of everyone, there is no overnight parking and no queing on public roadways before 5:30 a.m. Truckers should plan accordingly and stagger their arrivals in the morning to help limit potential congestion”.
Sales. The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that the combined value of distributive trade sales and manufacturers’ shipments for November, adjusted for seasonal and trading-day differences but not for price changes, was estimated at $1,313.5 billion, down 0.2 percent (±0.2%)* from October 2015 and was down 2.8 percent (±0.5%) from November 2014.
On 16 January 2016, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that Iran has complied with its obligations under the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) conditional to the first phase of sanctions relief. As a result, significant EU and US sanctions relief went into effect as of 16 January 2016. Certain nuclear-related sanctions remain in place, however, and the sanctions related to the Iranian human rights situation remain entirely unaffected and in full force.
American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 1% in December, following a decrease of 0.9% during November. In December, the index equaled 135.6 (2000=100), up from 134.3 in November, and 0.1% below the all-time high of 135.8 reached in January 2015.