ACT Research: Economy Strong, but Moderating



ACT Research released its latest Commercial Vehicle Dealer Digest, which noted that the economic picture remains largely unchanged, with growth moderating in 2019 from strong 2018 growth.

The economy was already moderating as tailwinds from the end-of-2017 tax cuts diminished, but other caution flags are waving including current trade uncertainties, slowing industrial and auto sectors, tariff-driven inventory building, and an unfolding global economic slowdown. The report provides monthly analysis on transportation trends, equipment markets, and the economy.

“At the heart of ACT’s cycle duration prediction, carrier profitability and production peaks always lag the freight cycle, so fleet capacity always accelerates relative to freight growth at exactly the wrong time,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT president and senior analyst.

He continued, “Since late 2017, ACT’s forecasts have targeted 2019’s third quarter as the point at which the supply of Class 8 tractors and demand for freight services were likely to tip so far as to break the current period of peak vehicle production, as demand reverts to the mean. Current data and anecdotes make a strong case that the call for a Q3 inflection expectation remains intact.”

Vieth added, “Weak freight is not just a trucking story as NA Class 1 rail volumes dropped 2.1% year-over-year in May, after a 0.6% slide in April. Regarding the Class 8 market, current build rates suggest potential upside to the 2019 forecast, but large new inventories and deteriorating freight and rate conditions suggest erring on the side of caution remains the right call. When the change comes, it is likely to come fast.”

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Terry Mulreany
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