Class 8 truck orders are expected to total between 23,000 and 23,300, according to two leading forecasting firms. Such totals would surpass the numbers posted for the same month a year ago. What’s more, they’d mark five months in a row that Class 8 orders have been up from a year ago.

According to FTR Associates, its preliminary data shows April Class 8 truck net orders at 23,026-- 6% above the March numbers.

FTR said orders for Class 8 trucks have now been above 20,000 for five consecutive months with April orders 37% improved from a year ago. Even with the one month dip in March orders, the firm observed, the last three months annualize to 270,400 units.

“The Class 8 preliminary net orders of 23,300 [we’re seeing] represent a continuation of the narrow order trend that has been in place since last October,” said Kenny Vieth, president & senior analyst, ACT Research.

“Over those seven months, orders have fallen no lower than 20,100 units and no higher than April’s expected 23,300 units,” he noted.

"[Class 8] orders continue to remain at a healthy level, coming in at the high end of our expectations,” pointed out Jonathan Starks, FTR’s director, transportation analysis. “This bodes well for a continuation of the modest growth in equipment sales during 2013.

“Despite this,” he added, “our optimism is tempered by the weakness seen in much of the economic data over the last month and by our discussions with fleets. There is no desire to add equipment in the near-term and merely replacing equipment doesn't create additional equipment demand beyond our current expectations."

As for medium-duty, ACT’s Vieth said that preliminary net orders for Class 5-7 of 15,800 are “in line with the three-month order trend.

“While April’s Class 5-7 volume was down from year-ago levels,” he added, “the three-month order average is running slightly ahead of the year-ago comparison.”