FTR’s Shippers Conditions Index Significantly Increases in February Reflecting a Sharply Positive Freight Market

04.28.20 | FTR

FTR’s Shippers Conditions Index increased significantly in February to a reading of 7.93 up from January’s 3.73. This increase ended three straight months of small declines. It is likely to increase dramatically in the next few months in response to weak volumes and rates stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic. The sharp uptick is not necessarily a sign that shippers are doing well, as much as it showcases the impact on transportation of the COVID-19 virus. It is not expected to remain at elevated levels for long, but will remain positive for shippers through the balance of 2020 as capacity will be slow to reach equilibrium.

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

Todd Tranausky, vice president of rail and intermodal at FTR, commented, “The recent uptick in the Shippers Conditions Index is expected to continue for the next several months, but it does not necessarily mean it is a great time to be a shipper as it flows from the COVID-19-related disruptions. The one positive for shippers out of the virus will be a much more positive environment for the balance of 2020 than was expected otherwise. It will take time for capacity and volume to right size and while it does, shippers should be able to obtain favorable terms to ship their goods.”
The April issue of FTR’s Shippers Update, published April 7 details the factors affecting the February Shippers Conditions Index. Also included in April is commentary discussing the coronavirus outbreak.
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.

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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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