Money Minute: Trucking Industry Leading Road to Recovery


Worries are mounting that the economic rebound is stalling out, but there are also some positive signs driving the economy higher.

The trucking industry is often considered a leading indicator of what's up the road for the economy, and the trucks are rumbling along. Bloomberg reports demand for big rigs is at an eight-year high and that pay for truck drivers is on the rise, because drivers are in short supply. The truck utilization rate has been above 99 percent since last November.

A government agency has given preliminary approval to new rules to keep the Internet open to all content companies. The Federal Communications Commission plan would stop Internet providers from giving preferential treatment to some sites over others. At the same time it would allow content providers such as Netflix (NFLX) to pay more to move their Web traffic more quickly.

The plan would also classify Internet providers such as Comcast (CMCSA), Verizon (VZ) and AT&T (T) as utilities, which could mean more regulations for the industry. The FCC is trying to replace the so-called "Net neutrality" rules that were struck down by federal courts. The consequences for consumers are still unknown.

Meanwhile, Comcast says it may eventually require consumers to pay more if they exceed some undetermined limit on data use. But a company executive says "the vast majority" of customers wouldn't be affected.

Here on Wall Street, the Dow Jones industrial average (^DJI) slid 167 points on Thursday, the Standard & Poor's 500 index (^GPSC) fell 17, and the Nasdaq composite (^IXIC) dropped 31 points.

Once each quarter, hedge funds and other big time investors report on major changes in the portfolio of stocks the own. Warren Buffett's company, Berkshire Hathaway (BRK-B), bought a big stake in Verizon during the first quarter, and sold shares of General Motors (GM) and DirecTV (DTV).

Big moves by other heavy-duty investors include:
  • George Soros sold J.C. Penney (JCP), as well as banking giants JPMorgan Chase (JPM) and Citigroup (C).
  • David Tepper added to his Internet plays, Facebook (FB) and Expedia (EXPE).
  • Carl Icahn bought into eBay but sold shares of Netflix.
-Produced by Drew Trachtenberg.

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