A tighter truck market, increase in national shipments, and accelerated factory output are among the highlights of the Q3 2017 U.S. Bank Freight Payment Index, which measures quantitative changes in shipment and spend activity (see chart) based on data from transactions the company processes.
- An 8.3-percent jump in U.S. Bank’s national spend index, the largest quarterly gain since Q4 2014. The gain reflects a tighter truck market, in part from increased vehicle demand in the aftermath of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.
- The national shipment index increased 3.3 percent, which was slower than the 5.8-percent surge in the second quarter, but still solid, considering the hurricanes’ impact.
- An acceleration in factory output as the U.S. dollar retreated from high levels and businesses began reinvesting in capital equipment.
The index also breaks down data into regions, based on the shipment’s state of origin. Among the regional findings for the third quarter:
- The Northeast region saw the biggest shipment index gain, at 10 percent. Better manufacturing activity and slightly higher housing starts compared to Q2 drove the gain.
- Shipments in the Southeast inched up a mere 0.1 percent, as Hurricane Irma disrupted the supply chain. At the same time, spend volume jumped nearly 5 percent as truck capacity tightened.
- The Midwest led in overall spend, jumping 13.3 percent to a record high. A rebound in general manufacturing activity assisted the region.