Net orders for trailers in April dropped 13 percent from March, according to ACT Research, as trucking companies signaled they are growing uncertain about the strength of an economic recovery.
Net orders of dry vans and reefer vans, the largest trailer volume categories, each softened slightly in April compared to March, while flatbeds and other specialty segments continued to gain strength.
“While April was a little weaker than February and March, the trailer industry is in the early stages of a rebound from a very weak 2009,” said Kenny Vieth, senior analyst and partner, ACT Research.
It’s still a recovery compared with the deep decline seen in 2009. April net orders for trailers were 3 percent higher than a year ago, and trailer orders through the first four months of the year were up 72 percent, ACT Research said.
But various measures, including Morgan Stanley’s Truckload Freight Index (See http://joc.com/trucking/truckload-demand-strong-slowing) suggest the increase in demand is leveling off.
“Incremental demand is still improving, but marginally slower than the historic seasonality would suggest,” Morgan Stanley analysts Adam Longson and William Greene said in a report on the index.
Columbus, Ind.-based ACT Research noted overall net orders still supersede build rates that have boosted the order backlog to its highest level in 20 months.
“A potential indicator of continued improvement is the very low level of order cancellations over the past three months,” Vieth said.
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