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

Date: May 14, 2019
Source: News Release
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- 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 percent. 
 
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.
 
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.
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