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 0.8 percent in May following a 0.1 percent increase in April and a 0.3 percent gain in March.
The seasonally adjusted year-on-year index, which tracks fuel purchases by over-the-road trucks, was down 0.6 percent in May compared with a 1.9 percent annual decline in April.
The March-May PCI rose 2.2 percent versus the February-April PCI, which fell 1.2 percent versus the January-March PCI.
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 Institute of Supply Management reported its monthly manufacturing index fell to 53.5 in May from a 54.8 reading in April. Any reading above 50 indicates growth in the sector.
The May number was slightly higher than March's 53.4. The May index, by UCLA Anderson School of Management, will be the last report issued.
Meanwhile, the economy continues to battle major headwinds.
In May, the economy added a net 69,000 nonfarm payrolls, well below expectations for around 150,000 jobs.
May's numbers were well below January and February's respective totals of 275,000 and 259,000.
In the first quarter of 2012, the U.S. gross domestic product grew 1.9 percent, down from a preliminary estimate of 2.2 percent.
The U.S. service sector, meanwhile, which employs the bulk of the work force, expanded in May albeit at a slow clip.
The Institute for Supply Management says its index of non-manufacturing activity inched up to 53.7 in May from 53.5 in April.
"The market is very fearful of the economic data," says Peter Boockvar, equity strategist at Miller Tabak & Co. in New York, Reuters reports.
"A slightly better-than-expected services number, which makes up the majority of the economy, is a sigh of relief in the face of a lot of bearishness."
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