FTR’s Shippers Conditions Index for March at 19.7 Reflects Strong Favorable Market Conditions

05.28.20 | FTR

FTR’s Shippers Conditions Index for March at 19.7, which more than doubled the level of February, reflects the most favorable market conditions ever. Operational challenges remain, but utilization, rates, and fuel costs all turned highly favorable due to COVID-related influences. FTR projects that increasingly favorable conditions for shippers will likely send this index significantly higher in Q2 as plunging capacity utilization causes rates to fall and fuel costs sink further.

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

Eric Starks, Chairman and CEO at FTR, commented, “We know that the SCI is going to surge in the second quarter as the pandemic drove freight levels down, thus, freeing up an unprecedented amount of trucking capacity. The real question is when will the turning point occur and start to move the SCI lower again. With recent freight data through the end of May showing an uptick in activity, the SCI should move in an inverse fashion and drive the index number lower in June. One thing we will be watching is a potential shortage of capacity available for shippers in the short-term as carrier's and drivers adjust to any sporadic upsurge in regional demand over the next several months. However, much will depend on the spread of the coronavirus and its impact on the broader economy.”
The May issue of FTR’s Shippers Update, published May 7 details the factors affecting the March Shippers Conditions Index. Additional commentary updates the COVID-19 discussion including FTR’s view on what a restart to the economy might look like.
The Shippers Conditions Index tracks the changes representing four major conditions in the U.S. full-load freight market. These conditions are: freight demand, freight rates, fleet capacity, and fuel price. The individual metrics are combined into a single index that tracks the market conditions that influence the shippers’ freight transport environment. A positive score represents good, optimistic conditions. 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...and readings high above zero spell opportunity. Readings near zero are consistent with a neutral operating environment. Double digit readings (both up or down) are warning signs for significant operating changes.

For more information about how to subscribe to the Shippers Update, send an e-mail to [email protected] or call Helen Lile at (888) 988-1699 ext. 1 and follow us on Twitter @FTRintel.

The Shippers Update, launched by FTR during 2010 as a part of the firm’s Freight Focus, looks at conditions that will affect the cost and efficiency of shipping goods via all transportation modes. North American shippers will find in one reference the essential information they need on freight volumes, equipment capacity and transport costs and rates.

The Shippers Update has both history and forecasts for four modal options: truckload, less-than-truckload, intermodal and rail carload. The analysis includes the breakdown of total truck and rail volumes into major commodity segments. It also provides historical snapshots of inland water and air freight markets. The freight data is augmented by an abundant collection of supporting data covering macro-economics and the fuel market.

Click here to view a sample report >

About FTR 
For more than 30 years, FTR has served as the industry leader in freight transportation forecasting for the shipping, trucking, rail, intermodal, equipment, and financial communities in North America. FTR’s experts, with over 250 years of combined experience in the transportation industry, provide quantitative analysis with historical and modal-specific insights. FTR’s reports, data, commentary, and insights help clients evaluate market risks, identify new opportunities, and make informed decisions.
FTR is the only company with a complete set of freight data for all modes of transportation with detail at the 3 Digit STCC commodity level. FTR tracks and forecasts 200+ unique commodity groups both quarterly and annually using their proprietary Freight•cast U.S. freight transportation model. FTR’s Transportation Conference held annually in September in Indianapolis is a unique event bringing together every aspect of the freight transportation world into one place. For more information

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