Trailer shipments top year-ago levels by 28%

Shipments of complete truck trailers in the second quarter increased 28% from the corresponding period of 2002, according to figures compiled by Economic Planning Associates Inc of Smithtown, New York.

According to EPA Inc, U S manufacturers shipped 41,100 complete trailers, during the second quarter, compared with 32,00 a year earlier. For the first half of 2003, an estimated 83,850 complete trailers left U S plants, a 44% increase from the first six months of 2002.

Output in the April-June period, however, did not quite match the 42,800 complete trailers shipped during the previous quarter. Until the latest period, U S manufacturers had posted four consecutive quarterly increases.

“We believe that the slowing momentum in trailer demand can be attributed to the uneasy environment of the first quarter which no doubt affected orders for equipment,” says Peter Toja, president of EPA Inc. “The ‘saber rattling’ against Iraq followed by the actual invasion of that country, sharp rises in oil prices, weak job markets, lower consumer sentiment, a slowing in consumer spending, and a flattening in manufacturing output all served to dampen truck traffic flows and the need to replace and/or expand trucking fleets.

“With the Iraqi war behind us, consumer demand expanding at a moderate pace, modest inflation, and extremely low interest rates, we would expect an imminent revival of sorts in business investment plans. In fact, preliminary data indicates that the yearlong slide in industrial and commercial structures stabilized last quarter while business purchases of capital equipment, led by the high-tech segment, improved moderately. From this point on, we expect modest but steady improvements in capital spending. After a slow start, business investment will gather momentum during the second half of this year and into 2004.”

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