The Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index fell 0.5 percent in April after rising 2.7 percent in March, underscoring what the index sponsors called a “fitful” recovery.
The index also showed shipping increased in the “heavily trucked” Midwest but declined elsewhere, particularly in the Mid-Atlantic and East North Central states.
Still, the decline offset only a fraction of the exceptional gain in March, said Ed Leamer, chief PCI economist and director of the UCLA Anderson Forecast.
The 0.5 percent drop in the index in April “reinforces our long held cautious, below consensus outlook for growth in GDP and employment,” Leamer said.
Based on the April result, “the PCI is calling for growth of 0.25 percent in industrial production when the government reports its number on May 17,” he said.
The PCI forecast of 0.8 percent growth in industrial production for March, matching the industrial production estimate for March released by the Federal Reserve.
The fuel-based index rose 3.5 percent year-over-year in April, its 17th consecutive month of growth, the UCLA Anderson School of Management and Ceridian said.
The Ceridian-UCLA index rose 3.6 percent year-over-year in March and 1.8 percent in February, and has been rising on an annualized basis since December 2009.
The index is based on trucker fuel purchases paid for using Ceridian’s electronic card network. Ceridian and UCLA track the location and volume of fuel purchased.