|By David Cullen, executive editor|
|Penton Business Media|
As 2012 approaches, some key indicators strongly suggest the U.S. economic recovery is at last truly picking up speed. For starters, new U.S. claims for unemployment benefits fell to a 3-1/2 year low last week, according to the Dept. of Labor’s (DOL) Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims Report released today.
Also, the Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index (PCI), issued this week by the
And FTR Associates’ Shippers Conditions Index (SCI) improved in October by 1.1 points from the previous month to a current reading of -3.6. The SCI sums up all market influences that affect shippers, with a reading above zero suggesting a favorable shipping environment and one below zero an unfavorable one.
According to DOL, in the week ending
Per a report posted today by Reuters, the DOL prior week’s claims data was revised up to 385,000 from the previously reported 381,000. Economists polled by the news organization had forecast claims rising to 390,000 last week. Reuters pointed out that “the unexpected drop in claims last week pushed them closer to the 350,000 mark that analysts say signals labor market strength.”
The Reuters report further observed that the unemployment claims data “offered further evidence of increased momentum in the pace of economic activity, even though retail sales rose modestly in November” and added that this performance is in “sharp contrast to
According to Ceridian-UCLA, over the past three months - compared to the prior three months—its PCI declined at an annualized rate of 4.8%. But on a year-over-year basis, the PCI grew 0.9% in November and saw a 1.3% year-over-year increase in October.
“The continuing weakness in the PCI is out-of-sync with real retail sales,” pointed out
And, based on the latest PCI data, Leamer added that “our forecast for November industrial production is a 0.06% increase when the government estimate is released.”
Leamer noted that the PCI is based on real-time diesel fuel consumption data for over-the-road trucking and serves as an “indicator of the state and possible future direction of the U.S. economy.” By tracking the volume and location of fuel being purchased, he said the PCI closely monitors the over-the-road movement of raw materials, goods-in-process and finished goods to U.S. factories, retailers and consumers.
FTR said its
However, the research firm cautioned shippers could “start to experience a much more negative environment” as early as mid-2012 depending on what is contained within the revised (HOS) rules, which reportedly will be released on
“There is more than the usual amount of uncertainty in the outlook for shippers at the moment as it appears that we are finally approaching the hour when the FMCSA will issue its much-anticipated revised rules for trucking Hours of Service,” said
“Our current assumption is that the revised rule will take effect in late 2012 and will have a substantial negative effect on shipping conditions,” he continued. “However, any prediction of the results of our current political process is necessarily fraught with uncertainty. FTR will closely examine the product of the rule-making process when it emerges and it is possible that our view of 2012 could change substantially as a result.”
|Copyright:||© 2011 Penton Media|
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