Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index is up slightly in February
March 13, 2012
The February edition of the Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index (PCI) was up for the fourth time in the last five months.
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 February PCI was up 0.7 percent, but the report’s authors said that was not enough to offset the 1.7 percent decline in January. The PCI was up 0.4 percent in December and up 0.1 percent and 1.1 percent in November and October, respectively. The PCI has been up in six of the last 12 months, and the three-month period from December to January is below the previous three months from September to November by an annualized rate of 3.2 percent.
On an annual basis, the PCI is down 0.2 percent compared to February 2011, and the report noted that annual growth has basically been slightly above zero—or flat—since May 2011. December and January’s annual comparisons were -0.8 percent and -2.2 percent, respectively.
The report’s authors noted last month that while the PCI appears to have stalled out when compared to other economic metrics showing growth such as industrial production and real retail sales, its annual changes, however, make it look more accurate.
“The continuing weakness of the PCI is signaling that, perhaps, the recovery in home building has not yet taken hold. The recent improvement in building permits and housing starts may get building going again and therefore, trucking as well, as it has been said that it takes 17 truckloads to build a home. If we get the saws and hammers going again, we will have a real recovery with much healthier job growth,” said Ed Leamer, chief economist for the Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index and Director of the UCLA Anderson Forecast, in a statement.
In a recent interview with LM, Leamer explained there have been a divergence several economic indexes
“Industrial production, retail sales are showing improvements and the labor market is healing substantially, which is making most people optimistic about 2012 compared to 2011,” he said.
But when looking at trucking, Leamer said it could still be too early to tell if 2012 will be an improvement, as it was initially thought that the divergence would be resolved by weaker industrial production or retail sales or by strengthening in trucking.
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