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One of America’s biggest trucking companies, JB Hunt is getting squeezed by Trump’s trade war

The effect of President Donald Trump’s trade war are beginning to show up in corporate results. The trucking company JB Hunt mentioned the tariffs as a factor when discussing its weak first-quarter results on its earnings call Monday. Shares were down more than 4% following the results.

While an array of concerns were cited, the trucking company highlighted particular weakness in the major West Coast market. On the call, management said the supply of Chinese goods has slowed due to the threat of tariffs. The additional tariffs, which were supposed to go into effect March 1, would have raised prices on Chinese imports, decreasing US demand. 

“West Coast was down versus what we anticipated,” said JB Hunt Executive Vice President Terrence Matthews. “I think the data that we’ve seen is that China in February, not only between — because of Chinese New Year but because of the potential tariffs that were supposed to go in in March 1st. Goods shipped, I think, is down 20%-plus now to see that land into a much slower West Coast volume.”

As part of its trade strategy, the Trump administration placed tariffs on $250 billion of Chinese goods coming to the US. China has responded with tariffs on $120 billion of US goods, which are focused on agricultural, and politically sensitive, states such as Ohio.

The Trump administration has also threatened to place tariffs on the remaining $255 billion of Chinese goods, amounting to more than $500 billion annually. The implementation of those additional tariffs has been extended several times as negotiations continue.

The trade war is costing US consumers over $1 billion per month, according to a study by economists at the Federal Reserve, Princeton, and Columbia University.

The weakness cited by JB Hunt is a clear indication that the tariffs are starting to show real affects on a wide variety of sectors, including agriculture and trucking. JB Hunt is based in Arkansas, but operates throughout the country. 

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