Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index is up in March

By Jeff Berman · April 5, 2012

The Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index (PCI) saw an increase for the fifth time in the last six months in March.

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 was up 0.3 percent in March, following February’s 0.7 percent gain. This cumulative 1.0 percent increase does not offset January’s 1.7 percent decline to start the year. Compared to March 2011, the PCI was down 2.2 percent. The PCI has been up in seven of the last 13 months, with the three-month adjusted index annualized growth rate period from January through March down 4.9 percent compared to the same rate for the preceding three-month period from October through December.

“Trucking is not in a recovery mode at least according to our index,” said Ed Leamer, chief economist for the Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index and Director of the UCLA Anderson Forecast. “We can look forward to a better year ahead if the recovery starts kicking in. But if it doesn’t, things will slow substantially. The index is indicating that the optimism placed on the trucking industry by the equities market is maybe a little bit ahead of the situation.”

And with trucking perhaps not in as much of a recovery mode as anecdotal reports suggest, Leamer said that to a large degree the trucking link of the supply chain has been somewhat inactive—or flat—for about a year.

What’s more, he explained that there needs to be more trucking activity, with a decent possibility it could be around the corner—and that could largely be driven by manufacturing activity.

“Manufacturing can definitely serve as a catalyst,” explained Leamer. “Trucking is all about the goods component of the economy, not the services side. A rebound in financial services or a different services sector has very little to do with trucking, which obviously is more directly related to manufacturing and retail activity.”

Another factor impacting trucking activity and the PCI is industrial production output, which matches up closely with the PCI and had shown growth for much of the last year until the past three months when it became flat.


About the Author

Jeff Berman
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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