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FTR analysis confirms tonnage surplus in U.S. trade with Mexico

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A truck crosses the border between Mexico and the United States in Nuevo Laredo, Mexico. FTR estimates that truck loads into and out of Mexico make up just 1.5% of all U.S. truck loadings, but that share has risen by about 50% since 2009. (Associated Press: HANS-MAXIMO MUSIELIK)

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Although the U.S. goods trade deficit with Mexico is about $80 billion, the U.S. has a longstanding trade surplus with Mexico in terms of rail tonnage and a growing truck tonnage surplus over the past three years, according to just-completed analysis by FTR.

Using the Freight•cast forecasting model, FTR translated value-based trade data published by the Bureau of Transportation Statistics into transportation tonnage and loadings to and from Mexico and Canada.

The forecasting firm’s analysis of cross-border trade data has been ongoing for several months and happened to conclude around the time President Trump announced tariffs on all imports from Mexico, effective June 10.

“With China continuing to be problematic, we know that there had been some shifting of sourcing to Mexico, so potential tariffs on Mexican imports raise important questions,” said Eric Starks, chairman and CEO of FTR. “Either we lose this freight, see increased costs, or both.”

The U.S. rail sector has run a significant surplus of tonnage into Mexico for years, but U.S.-Mexico truck tonnage had been more balanced until 2016, when the U.S. trucking sector posted its first meaningful surplus since 2008. The picture looks a bit different regarding loads into and out of Mexico. Rail loadings are volatile year to year, but the U.S. runs a deficit of truck loads to the tune of about 800,000 a year.

Rail movements into and out of Mexico represent about 3.2% of all U.S. rail moves, and that portion has grown steadily since 2009. Excluding intermodal, U.S.-Mexico traffic represents about 5.5% of total U.S. rail moves, and that number has nearly doubled since 2009.

FTR estimates that truck loads into and out of Mexico make up just 1.5% of all U.S. truck loadings, but that share has risen by about 50% since 2009.

“Rail is more exposed than truck even though it has a smaller portion of overall crossborder freight,” Eric Starks said. “Changes in freight would be felt quicker by the rail sector. If we assume a retaliation by Mexico, rail could be hit further because Mexico potentially has other ready sources for some of the most important rail exports to Mexico, such as fuel and grain.”

With truck, while the share of overall truck volume dedicated to Mexico is small, a big piece of that are parts for vehicles, computers, and machinery.

“If the trucking freight went away, that in itself would not be a death knell for trucking, but the broader issue is the exponential impact on U.S. manufacturing,” Starks said.

FTR will discuss some of its top level findings during a complimentary State of Freight webinar on Key Issues in Transportation, scheduled for June 13.

To register, visit http://www.ftrintel.com/webinars. A more comprehensive analysis will also be available later this month to subscribers of FTR’s State of Freight INSIGHTS series.

For information on how to subscribe to State of Freight INSIGHTS and other FTR products, visit www.ftrintel.com or contact FTR by email at [email protected] or by phone at 888-988-1699, ext. 1.

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ACT Research For-Hire Trucking Index: Weak finish to 2nd quarter

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The June Pricing Index at 43.8 (seasonally adjusted) recovered a good bit of last month’s sharp decline, up from 38.8 in May on a seasonally adjusted basis, the lowest in survey history. (Courtesy: ACT RESEARCH)

COLUMBUS, Ind. — The latest release of ACT’s For-Hire Trucking Index (June data) showed nearly across-the-board declines, with capacity again the lone exception.

The Volume Index dropped further into negative territory, falling to 43.2 (seasonally adjusted) in June from 46.7 in May.

The June Pricing Index at 43.8 (seasonally adjusted) recovered a good bit of last month’s sharp decline, up from 38.8 in May on a seasonally adjusted basis, the lowest in survey history.

“Volumes and utilization have been down seven of eight months, and the supply-demand balance has been loosening for eight straight months,” said Tim Denoyer, ACT Research’s vice president and senior analyst. “In line with several second quarter earnings warnings from truckload carriers this week, this is further confirmation of a weak freight environment. May’s Pricing Index looked a little anomalously bad, so it was good to see that pick back up, though still not a great level in June.”

Denoyer said volumes reached a new cycle low in June, likely due in part to rapid growth of private fleets, the slowdown in the industrial sector and some inventory drawdown.

“This coincides with most other freight metrics,” he said. “The supply-demand balance reading loosened to 41.4, from 42.1 in May. The past eight consecutive readings have shown a deterioration in the supply-demand balance, with June the largest yet.”

ACT is a publisher of new and used commercial vehicle (CV) industry data, market analysis and forecasting services for the North American market, as well as the U.S. tractor-trailer market and the China CV market. ACT’s CV services are used by all major North American truck and trailer manufacturers and their suppliers, major trucking and logistics firms, as well as the banking and investment community in North America, Europe, and China.

 

 

 

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Oil price rises on Mideast tensions, stock markets cautious

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After six weeks of declines that totaled 13 cents, the price of a gallon of diesel went up 1.3 cents a gallon for the week ending July 8 but dropped four tenths of a penny last week. (©2019 FOTOSEARCH)

BANGKOK — The price of oil rose on Friday after the U.S. said it had destroyed an Iranian drone near the Persian Gulf, where a lot of the world’s oil is shipped through. Stock markets were largely stable as investors monitor earnings and the ongoing trade talks between China and the U.S.

Energy prices were ratcheted higher after President Donald Trump said a U.S. warship had downed an Iranian drone that had been threatening. While Iran denied the incident, it’s the latest incident to increase tensions and uncertainty in the region, where oil tankers have been attacked or threatened.

About 20% of all oil traded worldwide passes through the Persian Gulf, so investors are aware of the potential for disruptions to ship traffic.

The U.S. benchmark for crude oil advanced 71 cents, or 1.3%, to $56.01 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the international oil standard, picked up 98 cents, or 1.6%, to $62.91 per barrel.

Obviously, the price of on-highway diesel is an outgrowth of the price of oil.

Diesel has gone down seven of the last eight weeks.

After six weeks of declines that totaled 13 cents, the price went up 1.3 cents a gallon for the week ending July 8 but dropped four tenths of a penny last week.

Stock markets were mixed, with Britain’s FTSE 100 shedding 0.1% to 7,484 and the CAC 40 in Paris falling by the same rate to 5,543. In Germany, the DAX rose less than 0.1% to 12,236. Wall Street looked set for small gains, with the future for the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 0.2% and the future for the S&P 500 adding 0.1%.

Reports that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer spoke with their Chinese counterparts as planned, with more talks to come, helped ease some concerns over the deepening trade war between Washington and Beijing.

The standoff over China’s longstanding trade surpluses and its policies aimed at building up advanced high-tech industries has added to concerns over slowing demand and weaker Chinese growth.

Expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will move quickly to cut interest rates have also helped buoy sentiment recently.

Comments by the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, John Williams, suggesting central banks need to “take swift action” when conditions turn adverse, have whetting investors’ appetites for buying, analysts said.

“Investors are highly sensitive to dovish comments from Fed presidents these days, as they are trying to figure out whether the Fed would lower its interest rates by 50 basis points by the end of this month,” Ipek Ozkardeskaya of London Capital Group said in a report.

“Given that a 50-basis-point cut would trigger a further rally in global equities, any remark of dovish nature translates immediately into higher asset prices,” she said.

In Asian trading, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index jumped 2% to 21,466.99 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng climbed 1.1% to 28,765.40. The Shanghai Composite index rose 0.8% to 2,924.20, while in South Korea, the Kospi added 1.4% to 2,094.36. India’s Sensex slipped 1.3% to 38,390.88. Shares rose in Taiwan and Southeast Asia.

Investors are looking ahead to corporate earnings.

So far, in the U.S. the results have been mixed, though only about 13% of S&P 500 companies have reported, according to FactSet. Analysts expect profits to fall 2.4% overall by the time all reports are tallied.

In currencies, the dollar rose to 107.60 Japanese yen from 107.30 yen on Thursday. The euro weakened to $1.1239 from $1.1279.

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ACT Research: Industry currently astride Class 8 demand inflection

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This chart shows the Class 8 North American build out backlog and the backlog to build ratio. (Courtesy: ACT RESEARCH)

COLUMBUS, Ind. – According to ACT Research’s (ACT) latest State of the Industry: Classes 5-8 Report, June’s Class 8 orders broke the string of falling order volumes with the opening of 2020 order books, garnering a 19% rebound.

While better orders slowed the rapid backlog decline, the situation is temporary, as coming months represent the seasonally weakest order period of the year, suggesting rapid backlog declines should continue in the near-term, according to Kenny Vieth, ACT Research president and senior analyst.

“The industry is currently astride the Class 8 demand inflection,” Vieth said. “On one side of the ledger, weak freight volumes and rates will increasingly pressure carrier profits, thereby moderating demand for new equipment. On the other, significant new capacity additions and steadily increasing inventory volumes suggest current build rates are unsustainable.”

Vieth said medium duty metrics remained in-line with expectations again in June, with most metrics close to their prevailing trends, if displaying some fraying at the edges.”

ACT Research is a publisher of commercial vehicle truck, trailer, and bus industry data, market analysis and forecasting services for the North American 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.

More information can be found at www.actresearch.net.

 

 

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