Mhlnews 3139 Economic Confidence

E-Commerce, Coal and Semiconductors Register Economic Health

May 27, 2014
These three economic highlights lead positive industry stats for April and May.

The latest Logistics Market Snapshot, from the Georgia Center of Innovation, highlights three positive industry trends which portend positive news for logistics practitioners:

  • E-commerce sales are expected to reach $414 billion by 2018, up from a projected $294 billion in 2014. Of the $294 billion this year, $87 billion of online transactions will come from mobile devices. In-store purchases are expected to grow by $300 billion by 2018. (Source: Forrester Research)
  • U.S. railroads originated 570,722 carloads of coal in April 2014, up 6.4% over April 2013 and the best year-over-year gain for coal since January 2011. U.S. railroads also originated 104,946 carloads of grain, up 27.6% over the previous year and the largest year-over-year gain on record. (Source:
  • Worldwide sales of semiconductors reached $78.47 billion during Q1 2014, the industry's highest-ever first quarter sales. March 2014 had an increase of 11.4% from the same month last year marking the industry's largest year-over-year increase in more than three years. (Source:

Other highlights from this report:

Transportation Indexes:

• Dow Jones Transportation index rose 3.9% during the month of April. (Stock performance of twenty large, well-known U.S. companies in the transportation industry, average of April 10th thru May 10th)

• NASDAQ Transportation Index increased 3.8% in April.

(Averaged share weights of NASDAQ-listed companies classified as transportation companies, average of April 10th thru May 10th.

• The April shipments index rose 1.5% over the previous month and rose 5.5% year-over-year. The April expenditures index rose 2.8% for the month, and increased 10% year-over-year. (Source: Cass Information Systems | (Based upon transportation dollars and shipments of Cass clients comprised of over 400 shipping companies)


• Railroad bulk carload freight in April 2014 rose 1.0% from March 2014. Freight traffic in April rose 6.4% from April 2013. Carloads excluding coal increased 6.3% over the previous year. (Source: (Report includes rail car-loadings by 19 different major commodity categories as well as intermodal units)

• Intermodal rail traffic in April 2014 was 9.0% higher than in April 2013, and rose 1.1% from March 2014. Intermodal loadings have experienced year-over-year gains for 53 straight months. (Source: (Report includes rail car-loadings by 19 different major commodity categories as well as intermodal units)


• The ATA’s seasonally adjusted cargo index rose 0.6% in March. The for-hire truck tonnage index rose 3.1% from March 2013. (Source: American Trucking Association |

• The spot market for truckload freight in April fell 8.6% compared to the previous month, and was 58% higher year-over-year. Truck capacity rose 30% for the month, and was down 5.8% year-over-year. (Source: DAT Trendlines |

• Orders for heavy-duty Class 8 trucks in North America are expected to total 24,115 units in April 2014. April orders were 11% lower than the previous month and 5% higher year-over-year. (Source: FTR Associates |


• Global air freight traffic in March increased 5.9% from one year ago, and rose 4.0% from the previous month. North American air freight in March rose 1.9% year-over-year. (Source: (Global air freight covers international and domestic scheduled air traffic.)

• In March, the index of East-West air cargo rates rose 6.8% from the previous month, and was 6.1% higher year-over-year. The average price of air cargo leaving the United States in March stood at $3.34 per kilogram. (Source: Drewry) (The Drewry East-West Air Freight Price Index is based on the average of rates ($US per kg) for air freight services on 21 major East-West routes.)

Ocean Freight:

• U.S. vessel imports in January 2014 totaled nearly 1.6 million TEUs, up 5.7% from the previous year. The number of shipments in January totaled 802,948 units, a 6.9% increase year-over-year. (Source: Zepol Corporation |

• Import volume through major U.S. container ports is expected to increase 3.5% in May from the same month last year. In March, the latest month for which numbers are available, U.S. container ports handled 1.3 million TEUs, a 5.1% increase from the previous month and a 14.5% increase from the same month last year. Total U.S. containerized imports are expected to increase 5.1% in the first half of 2014. (Source: NRF/Hackett Associates)


• The U.S. average industrial vacancy rate was 8.3% during Q1 2014, equal to the vacancy rate in the previous quarter. (Source: Cassidy Turley)

• In Q1 2014, warehouse and distribution rental rates in the US averaged $5.11 per square foot, up from $5.06/SF in the previous quarter. (Source: Cassidy Turley)


• The unemployment rate in America fell to 6.3% in April 2014 as there were 288,000 net new jobs. The Participation rate however fell from a 6-month high of 63.2% back to 62.8%. (Source: US DOL)

• The trucking industry workforce added 6,800 employees in April. The trucking workforce increased 1.5% over the previous year. (Source: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics)

Economic Indicators:

• The Consumer Confidence Index increased to 84.1 in April 2014, up 4.1 points from the previous month. (Source: The Conference Board) (The consumer confidence index is based on a monthly survey of 5,000 U.S. household. It is designed to gauge the financial health, spending power, and confidence of the average U.S. consumer.)

• The Leading Economic Index for the U.S. increased 0.8% in March to 100.9 (2004=100), following at 0.5% increase in February and a 0.2% decrease in January. (Source: Conference Board) (The LEI is a composite of 10 economic indicators that together create an analytic system designed to signal peaks and troughs in the business cycle. The LEI reveals patterns in economic data in a clearer and more convincing manner than any individual component alone.)

•  The consumer price index for all urban consumers increased 0.2% in March from the previous month. Over the last 12 months, the all items index increased 1.5%. The producer price index for finished goods rose 0.6% in April from the previous month. Prices for finished goods rose 2.1% over the previous year. (Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics)

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