The American Trucking Associations' advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index rose 0.5% in February after falling 4.6% in January. January's decrease was more than the preliminary 4% drop ATA reported Feb. 28.

The latest gain put the SA index at 119.3 (2000=100), up from January's level of 118.7. Compared with February 2011, the SA index was up 5.5%, better than January's 3.1% increase.

The not-seasonally-adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 112.9 in February, which was 1.3% above the previous month.

"Fleets told us that February was decent and that played out in the numbers," says ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. Costello notes that February's month-to-month increase was sixth in the past seven months.

"I'm still expecting continued truck tonnage growth going forward," he says. "Rising manufacturing activity and temperate consumer spending should be helped a little from an improving housing market."