Today’s Pickup: Housing data suggests caution for flatbed carriers

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons/ Rishichhibber)

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons/ Rishichhibber)

Good day,

The Commerce Department’s housing starts and building permits data released this week shows a mixed bag when it comes to the housing market.

July’s housing starts dropped 4.8% below June’s level and 5.6% below a year ago at a seasonally adjusted rate of 1.16 million. Housing permits, which measure future construction activity, also fell, registering 4.1% below June’s level. However, the July permit activity is still 4.1% above a year ago.

The increase in permits continues to bode well for the housing industry, which flatbed carriers rely on to boost revenue. So far this year, flatbed carriers have performed well as housing and other flatbed-dependent segments have increased.

There is some caution, though, noted by Donald Broughton, principal of Broughton Capital. He notes that experts were surprised by the lower-than-expected numbers, but watchers of lumber shipments would have foreseen the July drop. In 21 of the past 31 months, he said, lumber shipments have fallen below year-ago levels. As a result, housing starts and permits could continue to see declines, he says.

Did you know?

Who built the first electric car is a bit of mystery, with numerous people being credited for it, but it was likely sometime between 1828 and 1839. By the start of the 20th century, there were 33,842 electric cars were registered in the United States.

Quotable:

“In light of the significant issues raised, the agency has decided to revisit the Phase 2 trailer and glider provisions. We intend to initiate a rulemaking process that incorporates the latest technical data and is wholly consistent with our authority under the Clean Air Act.”

- Scott Pruitt, EPA Administrator

In other news:

E-commerce’s impact on trucking

No one is disputing that e-commerce is disrupting trucking, but to what effect is hard to measure. (Heavy Duty Trucking)

Discount grocer enters home delivery business

Everyone, it seems, is getting into the delivery business. The latest in discount grocer Aldi, which is testing home delivery in several markets. (Supply Chain Brain)

Class 8 sales rise

Retail sales for Class 8 trucks rose in July, the first year-over-year increase since November 2015, according to WardsAuto.com. Class 8 sales increased 8.7% in July to 15,317 units. (Transport Topics)

Factory production drops again

For the second time in three months, U.S. factory production has declined, driving by slowing auto sales. The Federal Reserve says manufacturing production fell 0.1% in July. (Wall Street Journal)

Roadrunner Transportation selling logistics unit

Roadrunner Transportation continues to slim down as it refocuses on its core trucking unit, announcing it is selling its Unitrans logistics unit.  (New York Business Journal)

Final Thoughts

News that the EPA will revisit its Phase 2 greenhouse gas emissions and fuel efficiency standards for trailers and gliders is good news to opponents of the plan, but is just the latest move by the Trump administration to consider changes to current rules, throwing more uncertainty into the regulatory environment.

Hammer down everyone!