ACT’s research shows a slowing market in November from a month earlier

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ACT Research sent out three statistical reports to close out the week before the Christmas break. Here are a few highlights on what the group had to say:

–November Class 8 orders were down from November of the prior year. Total orders were 28,082 units in November, while total build was 27,973 units. But the build level was down 17% from November 2017. In a prepared statement, Kenny Veith, ACT Research’s president and senior analyst, said it was the first time a month-over-month comparison was negative. Still, the 12-month order book through November of this year was 506,300 units. That’s the second-biggest 12-month period ACT has ever recorded; the only one bigger was through October of this year. The ACT preliminary number for November was reported several weeks earlier at 27,900. That number was down 36% from October.

–Trailer orders were down in November from October, the second consecutive month they have declined sequentially. But as the ACT report noted, November still came in with the fifth highest net orders ever and followed a September all-time record and October’s second-best ever month. The specific number was not disclosed by ACT, but it was reported to be more than 45,000 net orders. Frank Maly, a director at ACT, said it would have been tough to show a gain after the performance of the two prior months. “Seasonals call for a small sequential net order gain to close the year, but several factors make that a challenge,” he said. “With the last three months all ranking in the top five all-time, how likely are fleets to continue to increase commitments that currently stretch into fall 2019? Several factors, including softening freight rates, some interest-rate driven uncertainty, and the continuing potential of tariff wars, cloud the economic horizon.” Orders for the full year are twice what they were last year at this time, ACT said.

–Used truck prices through November were up 11% year-on-year, ACT said. That number is for Class 3-8. For the Class 8 category, sales in November by volume were sequentially down from October by 17%. Still, the year-on-year figure compared to November 2017 was up 10%. Average mileage on used truck sales was said to be flat with the average age declining 3% from a year ago. Dealers are indicating that used truck sales are very strong,” Steve Tam, the company’s vice president, said. “They are scrambling to find inventory, with many reporting that 2018 may be the best truck market they have ever seen. While the good news is that trucks are selling, the bad news is the trucks are more expensive than normal.”

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John Kingston

John has an almost 40-year career covering commodities, most of the time at S&P Global Platts. He created the Dated Brent benchmark, now the world’s most important crude oil marker. He was Director of Oil, Director of News, the editor in chief of Platts Oilgram News and the “talking head” for Platts on numerous media outlets, including CNBC, Fox Business and Canada’s BNN. He covered metals before joining Platts and then spent a year running Platts’ metals business as well. He was awarded the International Association of Energy Economics Award for Excellence in Written Journalism in 2015. In 2010, he won two Corporate Achievement Awards from McGraw-Hill, an extremely rare accomplishment, one for steering coverage of the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster and the other for the launch of a public affairs television show, Platts Energy Week.