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Analysts say attacks slowed but did not stall trucking’s recovery

Industry analysts are wrestling with how the aftermath of the terrorists attacks will impact trucking’s anticipated recovery next year from the current economic slump.The crucial question is how quickly will consumer confidence -- the bulwark of the U.S economy -- snap back after being depressed by the uncertainty and fears engendered by a nation gone to war on terrorism, abroad and at home. Echoing the fact no one has ever been down this road before, economist Jerry Leonard of Ormond Beach, FL-based Martin Labbe Associates (MLA) says any economic forecast issued right now should be regarded a “work in progress.” Be that as it may, Leonard is willing to predict that the decline in freight traffic will level off in the first quarter of ’02 and then start to improve in the second quarter. “Expect to see good, solid growth in the second quarter,” says Leonard, “and for it to increase faster toward the second half.” If consumer confidence bounces back this fall, according to analyst Chris Brady, president of Manhasset, NY-based Commercial Motor Vehicle Consulting, trucking will see shipment volumes rise gradually through next year. As for other near-term effects of the September 11th aftermath, Brady says to look for insurance rates to rise but fuel prices to stay down. As for fuel, barring political fallout from the overseas war being waged on terrorism -- such as bombing beyond Afghanistan -- that could compel OPEC to cut back production, diesel fuel prices should remain low, at least for the time being.

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