FTR’s Shippers Conditions Index Improved in June but Remains in Negative Territory

FTR’s Shippers Conditions Index (SCI) improved somewhat in June to a less negative reading of -4.0 from the previous -6.2 in May. A slowing of diesel price gains in June was the largest factor. Freight market dynamics netted out little change.

Aside from April, the June SCI reading was the strongest since September 2020. The outlook is improving and given plummeting diesel prices, a positive SCI for July appears likely.

Todd Tranausky, vice president of rail and intermodal at FTR, commented, “Lower diesel prices will create a slowly improving situation for shippers, but it will likely be the only factor improving in the near term. Congestion remains an issue at ports and inland rail terminals, and it will likely hold back how much capacity is available in the system during the peak season.”

The August issue of FTR’s Shippers Update, published Aug. 5 provides a detailed analysis of the factors affecting the April Shippers Conditions Index and provides the forecast for this index through June of 2023. The August issue also includes a discussion of how the Federal Reserve’s revision in recent years’ industrial production data affects FTR’s truck loadings estimates.

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.