FTR’s September Shippers Conditions Index Continues to Improve with Positive Trend Expected Into 2019

FTR’s Shippers Conditions Index (SCI) for September reflected continued improvement in the environment for shippers with a new reading of -7.6, more than one point better than August. Overall conditions are still not favorable for shippers but FTR’s SCI measure is expected to steadily moderate in 2019. Increasing capacity and productivity in both truck and intermodal, and the resulting stabilization in rate growth, should impact shippers positively through next year with the SCI forecast to reach a neutral reading by 2019Q4.

Todd Tranausky, vice president of rail and intermodal at FTR, commented, “The slow improvement in conditions for shippers that was present toward the end of the summer continued in September, but it will be a slow crawl back to a neutral position over the next year. Conditions for shippers are not as bad as they were earlier in 2018, but remain a long way from ideal.”

The November issue of FTR’s Shippers Update, published Nov. 5, 2018, details the factors affecting the May Shippers Conditions Index. Also included is an analysis of the fundamental factors in play and the dynamics of the current housing market.

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 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.

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