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The February truck tonnage index fell 2.8% on a year-over-year basis, but American Trucking Associations chief economist said freight activity was still strong and fell short because of the record-setting February 2016  comparison.

ATA’s seasonally adjusted index was 138.7 in February compared with 138.9 in January and 142.7 one year ago.

RELATED: ATA’s Bob Costello – better year in store for trucking

“February’s numbers, especially the year-over-year drop, might surprise some as several other economic indicators were positive in February,” said ATA chief economist Bob Costello. “However, I’m not worried about the decline from February last year as it was really due to very difficult comparisons more than anything else: February 2016 was abnormally strong.

Through the first two months, the index is down 0.1% versus 2015. Last year, tonnage was up 2.5%.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets, was 133.9 in December, which was 1.6% lower than January.

“Looking ahead, signs remain mostly positive for truck tonnage, including lower inventory levels, better manufacturing activity, solid housing starts and good consumer spending, as well as an increase in the oil rig count — all of which are drivers of freight volumes” Costello said.

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