The Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index (PCI), a real-time measure of the flow of goods to U.S. factories, retailers and consumers, rose 0.1 percent in April following a 0.3 percent gain in March and a 0.7 percent increase in February.
The seasonally adjusted index, which tracks fuel purchases by over-the-road trucks, was down 1.9 percent year-over-year in April compared with a 2.2 percent year-over-year decline in March.
The February-April PCI fell 1.2 percent versus the January-March PCI, which fell 4.9 percent at an annualized rate from the fourth quarter.
The Ceridian-UCLA Pulse of Commerce Index defines itself as a measure of real-time fuel consumption data for over-the-road trucking and serves as an indicator of the current state and possible future direction of the U.S. economy.
By tracking the volume and location of diesel fuel being purchased, the index closely monitors the over-the-road movement of produce, raw materials, goods-in-process and finished goods to U.S. factories, retailers and consumers.
The U.S. economy continues to recover from the recent downturn although at a tepid pace.
The U.S. Institute for Supply Management reported that its April manufacturing purchasing managers’ index surged to 54.8 in April from 53.4 in March and well above market forecasts for a reading of 53.0.
Still, headwinds abound.
In March, the economy added a net 120,000 nonfarm payrolls, well below expectations.
In the first quarter of 2012, the U.S. gross domestic product grew 2.2 percent, also below expectations.
The U.S. service sector, meanwhile, which employs the bulk of the work force, expanded in April albeit at a slow clip.
The Institute for Supply Management says its index of non-manufacturing activity dropped to 53.5 in April from 56.0 in March, the AFP newswire reports.
Any reading above 50 indicates expansion, although the number, based on a survey of participating companies, indicates higher fuel prices are crimping economic activity.
"Respondents' comments affirm the slowing rate of growth. In addition, they remain concerned about rising fuel costs and the impact on shipping, transportation and petroleum-based product costs," the ISM finds, the AFP adds.
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