Freight industry moves metals toward recovery

Jun 30, 2012 | 07:00 PM | AMM staff

Tags  metal shipments, American Trucking Associations, Bob Costello, freight transportation,

The ups and downs of a recovering recession have meant uncertainty at times during the first half of 2012, but the freight transportation industry nevertheless is moving along, helped in no small measure by shipments from the metals sector.

And in a symbiosis of sorts, the metals sector gets a boost when freight transportation thrives—the materials to build new containers, truck cabs, rail cars and other modes of transportation come from steel, aluminum and other metal producers, who benefit when orders stream in for large, durable equipment.

Primary metals, ores, finished products and ferrous and nonferrous scrap all saw relatively healthy tonnages moving within the United States in the first two quarters of 2012, the bulk of them carried by truck and rail. And exports saw a number of shipments leave the United States from ports on the East, West and Gulf coasts. By June, those industries were still making headway from capacity losses they suffered during the Great Recession, although their numbers were still well below pre-recession levels.Year to date, tonnage moved by truck was up 3.8 percent compared with the same period last year, according to American Trucking Associations (ATA) statistics. However, the ATA’s advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index decreased 1.1 percent in April—the most recent month for which figures were available—after increasing 0.6 percent in March. “While April’s decrease was a little disappointing, the March gain turned out to be stronger than originally thought,” ATA chief economist Bob Costello said. “The ups and downs so far this year are similar....

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