With the global economy still crawling out of recession, the third-party logistics (3PL) industry continues to feel the effects of the economic downturn. As companies in this space look forward to closing out a difficult 2009 and getting a fresh start in 2010, they are faced with a mixed bag of signals and conflicting trends that muddy the prospects for growth ahead.
The good news is that business appears to be picking up. The American Trucking Associations' advance seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index increased 2.1 percent in August, matching July's increase of the same magnitude, signifying a growing economy and offering hope that the revenue picture will look up heading into next year. The rise in the ATA's index has been matched by increases in other major economic indicators, such as the Institute for Supply Management's Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), which tipped above 50 in August and September, pointing to growth in the manufacturing sector. ISM's latest index for imports also ticked up in September, and the exports index, while dipping below 50, remained relatively strong at 48.5 for September, following a level of 54.0 for August.
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