U.S. and Iran Back Away From Open Conflict
Iran carried out an airstrike that hit two Iraqi bases that housed U.S. troops in retaliation of the U.S.-led airstrike that killed one of Iran’s top commanders, Qasem Soleimani. There were no reported deaths, mainly due to Iran giving Iraqi officials a notice hours before the attack to allow military officials to prepare. This was quickly followed up by Iranian Foreign Minister—Javid Zarif—tweeting, “We do not see escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.” Hours later, U.S. President Trump held a press conference to address the nation calling for increases in NATO influence in the Middle East and that further military action is unlikely.
Energy markets dropped significantly on the news. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude prices dropped over $3.00 per barrel or nearly 5 percent. Wholesale diesel prices followed suit and dropped 7.16¢ per gallon or roughly 3 percent. The large drop was mainly attributed to the easing tensions between the U.S. and Iran, however, a significant draw in U.S. crude oil inventories also provided upside price pressure. For more on the events between the U.S. and Iran, see our Advisor Pulse.
NACFE: Fuel Efficiency Up 15% From 2009 to 2018
The North American Council of Freight Efficiency (NACFE) performed their annual study and found that of the trucks that participated saw their fuel efficiency increase 15 percent from 6.27 miles per gallon (MPG) in 2019 to 7.27 MPG in 2018. There were 21 participating fleets that operate Class 8 tractor-trailers—including both day cabs and sleepers—traveling long haul and regional operations. The main contributor to the increase is fleets adapting to technologies like predictive cruise control, shifting to neutral, low-rolling-resistance tires, and increasing aerodynamics.
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President Trump moved Wednesday to de-escalate hostilities with Iran, signaling no new U.S. military strikes following an Iranian missile barrage on Iraqi bases housing American and allied military forces that resulted in no casualties.
Iran fired more than a dozen ballistic missiles at U.S. forces in Iraq, the Pentagon said late Tuesday, in attacks Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said were retribution for the U.S. killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani.
Iran spurned the U.S. president’s call for a new nuclear pact and its commanders threatened more attacks after both sides backed off from intensified conflict following the U.S. killing of an Iranian general and Tehran’s retaliatory missile strikes.
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Just four years after U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized a sweeping set of regulations aimed at cutting emissions from heavy-duty trucks and tractors by 25% by 2027, EPA is eyeing new federal regulations to further tighten heavy-duty truck emissions and to create a so-called “50-state program” that harmonizes emissions standards nationally.
Autonomous truck developer Plus.ai has announced a new safety testing program that it says will enable self-driving trucks to drive on public roads anywhere in the continental United States by the end of this year.
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The average fleetwide fuel economy of trucks that participated in the North American Council for Freight Efficiency’s annual study increased 15% from 6.27 miles per gallon in 2009 to 7.27 mpg in 2018. On a year-over-year basis, the fuel economy of trucks increased .5%, from 7.23 mpg in 2017. NACFE released the results of its report on Jan. 6.
Top Economic Stories
The economy added a seasonally adjusted 145,000 jobs last month and unemployment stayed at a 50-year low of 3.5%, capping a 10th straight year of payroll gains and the longest stretch in 80 years of data, the Labor Department said Friday.
Much of the U.S. economy is largely unscathed by two turbulent years of the trade war with China, economic indicators show. Yet economic growth is trending near 2% in 2019, well short of the Trump administration’s goal of 3%.