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FTR Trucking Conditions Index for March is the First Negative Reading in Several Years

05.14.19 | FTR

 
 
FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index for March fell to -1.18, its first negative reading in several years. The measure reflects a softening environment for carriers as freight rates continue to ease and demand outlook is sluggish although positive. Active truck utilization, as well as the truckload (TL) rate outlook, continued to ease in March. The weakness in TL rates is mostly on spot rates, but the contract rate outlook also has turned slightly negative. FTR’s outlook for loadings growth is slightly down from previous forecast with y/y growth now expected to be just under 2%. 
 
Details of the March TCI are found in the May issue of FTR’s Trucking Update, published April 26. The ‘Notes by the Dashboard Light’ section in current issue discusses the unusual circumstances from Q1 that have affected FTR’s outlook and why Q2 data should give a better sense of 2019 trajectory. Along with the TCI and ‘Notes by the Dashboard Light,’ the Trucking Update includes data and analysis on load volumes, the capacity environment, rates, costs, and the truck driver situation.

Click here to view the latest release and an interactive graph of the TCI >


Avery Vise, vice president of trucking, commented, “The trucking industry has essentially returned to neutral conditions as deterioration in most market factors are offsetting continued solid, but not robust, freight demand. We generally expect this balance to continue into 2020, but TCI readings could turn positive or negative month to month based on relatively minor shifts in demand, utilization, rates, or costs.”
 
The Trucking Conditions Index tracks the changes representing five major conditions in the U.S. truck market. These conditions are: freight volumes, freight rates, fleet capacity, fuel price, and financing. The individual metrics are combined into a single index that tracks the market conditions that influence fleet behavior. A positive score represents good, optimistic conditions. Conversely, a negative score represents bad, pessimistic conditions. The index tells you the industry’s health at a glance. In life, running a fever is an indication of a health problem. It may not tell you exactly what’s wrong, but it alerts you to look deeper. Similarly, a reading well below zero on the FTR Trucking Conditions Index warns you of a problem, while readings high above zero spell opportunity. Readings near zero are consistent with a neutral operating environment, and double-digit readings (both up or down) are warning signs for significant operating changes.

In addition to the Trucking Conditions Index, FTR has recently started releasing a weekly Trucking Market Update on the State of Freight Podcast. The weekly update is provided by FTR’s Vice President of Trucking, Avery Vise, and covers industry news and key indicators on a more frequent basis. To listen to recent episodes and download the indicators that are covered, go to www.FTRintel.com/podcast.
 

For more information on how to subscribe to Trucking Update, or other publications within FTR's Freight Focus, send an email to [email protected]  or call (888) 988-1699 ext. 1 and follow us on Twitter @FTRintel.

Trucking Update, published monthly, is part of FTR’s Freight Focus and reports data that directly impacts the activity and profitability of truck fleets. As part of Trucking Update, FTR forecasts expected trends in this data and the probable short and long term consequences.
 
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About FTR
For more than two decades, FTR has been the thought leader in freight transportation forecasting in North America. The company’s national award-winning forecasters collect and analyze all data likely to impact freight movement, issuing consistently reliable reports for trucking, rail, and intermodal transportation as well as providing demand analysis for commercial vehicle and railcar. FTR’s forecasting and specially designed reports have resulted in advanced planning and cost-savings for companies throughout the transportation sector.