Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index is up 0.4 percent in November

The most recent Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index (PCI) was up 0.4 percent in November, marking its first sign of positive growth in four months. The PCI was down 0.6 percent in October and 0.5 percent and 1.0 percent in September and August, respectively.

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The most recent Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index (PCI) was up 0.4 percent in November, marking its first sign of positive growth in four months.

The PCI was down 0.6 percent in October and 0.5 percent and 1.0 percent in September and August, respectively.

The PCI, according to Ceridian and UCLA, is based on an analysis of real-time diesel fuel consumption data from over-the-road trucking and is tracked by Ceridian, a provider of electronic and stored value card payment services. The PCI data is accumulated by analyzing Ceridian’s electronic card payment data that captures the location and volume of diesel fuel being purchased by trucking companies. It is based on real-time diesel fuel purchases using a Ceridian card by over the road truckers at more than 7,000 locations across the United States.

The PCI closely tracks the Federal Reserve’s Industrial Production data as well as GDP growth.

“While the PCI’s most recent data shows growth, it is not substantial enough to offset the loss from the third quarter,” said Ed Leamer, chief PCI economist and director of the UCLA Anderson Forecast, in a statement. “In short, November’s ‘up’ is relative to a low-bar so the growth is only mildly encouraging. The flatness we’re seeing with the latest PCI data reflects inventories in motion which seem to be signaling a weak fourth quarter.”

On an annual basis, the PCI is up 4.5 percent compared to November 2009, which marks the 12th straight month of annualized growth-which typically signals better sales prospects according to the report. And this growth rate is slightly above those which occurred during the normal growth period from 2004 to 2006, but the report noted that this remains below levels needed for rapid recovery to the previous peak in 2007-2008.

This month’s report also noted how the PCI is expecting a 0.03 decline in industrial production for November and is calling for GDP growth of 2.0 percent in the fourth quarter, which is short of the most recent 2.5 percent by the Department of Commerce.

Todd Dooley, Ceridian Senior Vice President of Finance, said in an interview that GDP growth is not occurring at a sustainable enough rate to put people back to work, which points to signs that the economy will continue to struggle.

Dooley added that the current situation falls short of the type of economic recovery that is needed to put people back to work and make people feel comfortable about the economy again, which has been a consistent message of the PCI, especially in recent months.

“There is choppiness out there when looking at various economic indicators,” said Dooley, “which provides good news and bad news and that is what we are seeing.”

And in December, Dooley said there may be some signs of increased economic activity, due to the holidays and some inventory replenishment occurring. But he cautioned it is not likely to be to the extent for replenishment which occurred in December 2009, which was a strong month for the PCI and the economy, due to depleted retail inventory levels.

“The PCI needs to grow at a ten-to-12 percent range for a sustainable period to put people back to work,” said Dooley. “The current growth level in the 4 percent range is not going to put people back to work in a meaningful way.”


About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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