ACT Research For-Hire Trucking Index: An Anomalous Spike in July

For-Hire Volume Index 8-26-19The latest release of ACT’s For-Hire Trucking Index, with July data, showed surprising improvement and trend reversal in every category. Two statistical factors were at work – seasonality and base effects – as July is typically soft, and after such a weak June, it wasn’t as bad sequentially. Commentary from fleets was mixed, but suggested there was underlying improvement in freight volume through July. The Volume Index of 56.7 (SA) in July was 50.0 on an unadjusted basis. The July Pricing Index, at 50.3 (SA), stabilized after declines in Q2, but continued to drop on an unadjusted basis at 47.0.

Tim Denoyer, ACT Research’s Vice President and Senior Analyst commented, “Volumes showed signs of life in July for the first time this year, for at least some of our friends in the industry. This ties with improving July container volumes, so this may be the start of the pre-ship we’ve predicted since the latest round of tariffs were threatened in May. Still, carriers’ freight volumes and expectations for peak season were described as ‘muted’ and ‘relatively weak,’ though the holidays are expected to be strong.”

For-Hire Freight Rates 8-26-19Regarding the Rate Index, Denoyer said, “The volume pickup seemed to take some of the pressure off, but rates continued to drop on an absolute basis in July. There is a capacity story to unfold as we head into next year, which should eventually be positive for rates, but this isn’t it. We think it’s too early to view this as a green shoot of the next up-cycle, and we’d ascribe much of the volatility to trade war noise.”

ACT Research is recognized as the leading publisher of commercial vehicle truck, trailer, and bus industry data, market analysis and forecasts for the North America and China markets. ACT’s analytical services are used by all major North American truck and trailer manufacturers and their suppliers, as well as banking and investment companies. ACT Research is a contributor to the Blue Chip Economic Indicators and a member of the Wall Street Journal Economic Forecast Panel. Executive staff appointments include a seat on the Board of Directors of the National Association for Business Economics and Consulting Economist to the National Private Truck Council. Accolades include Chicago Federal Reserve Automotive Outlook Symposium Best Overall Forecast, Wall Street Journal Top Economic Outlook, and USA Today Top 10 Economic Forecasters. More information can be found at

The ACT Freight Forecast provides quarterly forecasts for the direction of volumes and contract rates through 2020 and annual forecasts through 2021 for the truckload, less-than-truckload and intermodal segments of the transportation industry. For the truckload spot market, the report provides forecasts for the next twelve months. For more information about ACT’s Freight Forecast, U.S. Rate and Volume OUTLOOK, please click here.

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