Today’s Pickup: Oil prices reach 2-year high

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Good day,

Oil prices finished 2017 above $60 a barrel for crude, surpassing their highest level in more than two years. Delivery of light, sweet crude for February was up 1% to $60.42 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent crude was up 71 cents to $66.78 a barrel.

This followed news on Thursday from the U.S. Energy Information Administration that U.S. inventory fell to its lowest level since October 2015 and have fallen six straight weeks.

Oil production in the U.S. dropped by 35,000 barrels a day in the last week of December, falling from a record high the week before. OPEC has also extending production cuts first implemented at the beginning of 2017.

A report from the International Energy Agency said oil demand rose 1.7 million barrels a day in 2017 and will increase another 1.3 million this year. EIA is predicting U.S. shale production will increase in 2018, rising to 10 million barrels a day. The record is 9.6 million set in 1970.

Did you know?

UPS is predicting package return volume to peak at 1.4 million packages on Jan. 3, 8% higher than a year ago.

Quotable:

“Most consumers will know more about the revised tax code when the new paycheck withholding amounts take effect in early 2018. While the mostly small gains in take-home pay may not spark an uptick in optimism, those gains would act to dampen any renewed pessimism.”

- Richard Curtin, University of Michigan chief economist, on consumer optimism

In other news:

Comments are rolling in on EPA’s glider kit proposal

Many of the comments to the EPA’s proposal to exempt glider kits from the EPA GHG Phase 2 rule are focused on the economics of meeting the emissions requirements. (Fleet Owner)

A year in review

The year 2017 featured many changes for the industry, from regulations, to mergers, to the ELD rule. (CCJ)

Report details global trade challenges

A new report details the challenges global trade is creating for the supply chain, including e-commerce and speed-to-market. (Inbound Logistics)

Holiday package boom

The holiday package boom is over, but the fun will continue for UPS and FedEx, which handled record volumes to close out 2017 and now face record return shipping. (Transport Topics)

Navistar says it will sell more electric trucks than Tesla

In an interview, Navistar CEO Troy Clarke said that customers know the company and it will ultimately have more electric vehicles than Tesla. (Trucks.com)

Final Thoughts

For the second straight month, the University of Michigan said consumer sentiment dropped in the U.S., falling to 95.9 in December from 98.5 in November. It reached its highest point in October at 100.7. The survey’s chief economist, Richard Curtin, said uncertainty about tax code changes played a role, but once larger paychecks start arriving in consumer bank accounts, any pessimism should be dampened. However, the numbers need to be watched to see if this is a blip, or the start of a trend.

Hammer down everyone!

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight has covered the U.S. trucking and transportation community for more than 10 years, winning numerous regional and national editorial awards, including a Jesse. H. Neal Award. Prior to working on FreightWaves, Brian spent 10 years at industry trade magazine Fleet Owner, and prior to that managed daily newspaper editorial operations.