Sales of medium- and heavy-duty trucks rose in January for the first gain in three years. The rise in commercial-truck sales, a leading economic indicator, may point to an improving economy.
Sales rose 3 percent in January from the year-earlier level to 17,557 trucks. The last rise in commercial-truck sales was in January 2007.
Sales of large trucks slipped 6 percent in December -- the only single-digit decline of 2009. Total sales of trucks in classes 4 through 8 dropped 30 percent last year.
January's rebound came across all size classes except the smallest medium-duty trucks.
Sales of Class 4 trucks, the smallest, fell 8 percent to 2,920. Class 8 trucks, the largest, were flat at 7,387 vs. 7,374 in January 2009. But sales of Class 5s rose 15 percent to 2,063. Sales of Class 6 trucks also rose 15 percent, to 2,109. Class 7 sales rose 5 percent to 3,078.
All truckmakers did not join in the rally.
International's sales jumped 29 percent to 5,112, putting it far ahead of its rivals. Freightliner was in second place, as its sales slipped 5 percent to 3,969. Freightliner had been No. 1 in January 2009.
Ford Motor Co. was No. 3 with sales of 3,209, down 9 percent. Paccar's Peterbilt was the only other brand with sales of more than 1,000. Peterbilt's sales rose 18 percent to 1,027.