The ATA Truck Tonnage Index dropped a bit more than anticipated for May, down 2.3% vs. April.

With Manufacturing output up 0.4% (up 0.6% excluding the auto sector), consumer-oriented durable goods up just under 2%, and most other components of Industrial Production essentially flat, I would have expected a Tonnage result comparable to April’s.

2.3% is not a great drop, at least not enough to suggest any appreciable change in demand for new and used trucks. Plus, the Index is based on a survey, so we must make some mental allowances for variations in responses.

I am considering this month’s result an example of the minor fluctuations we should expect to see as the economy continues to sputter its way towards recovery. With the auto industry ramping back up in the short term, plus gas prices set to head further downwards, the fundamentals still support a healthy freight environment.