Trucking shipments drop by 1.7 percent


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U.S. trucking shipments declined by 1.7 percent in February compared with a year earlier, an industry trade group said.

The American Trucking Associations, in a monthly report released Monday, said shipments have declined on a year-over-year basis for eight straight months. Its truck tonnage index rose 1.6 percent from January, however.

"Freight levels remain challenging, despite some anecdotal reports of better volumes in late March," Bob Costello, the group's chief economist, said in a prepared statement.

Because more than two-thirds of all manufactured and retail goods in the U.S. are carried by truck, the industry is considered an important economic bellwether.

Costello added that shipping volumes are expected to improve in the second half of the year, but that he is not expecting a "robust rebound."

The Alexandria, Va.-based trucking group said its tonnage index stood at 113.3 in February, compared with 111.5 in January. The index, which stood at 100 in 2000, measures the weight of freight hauled by U.S. truckers, based on surveys from its membership.

Trucking companies have seen their fuel costs surge in the past few years, though they have been able to pass most of those extra expenses through to customers.

Shares of JB Hunt Transport Services declined 73 cents to $26.70 in morning trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market, where shares of Swift Transportation Co. were unchanged at $30.98.

Shares of YRC Worldwide Inc. -- the company created by the merger of Yellow and Roadway -- dropped 52 cents to $41.26, also on the Nasdaq.

Source: BusinessWeek

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