FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index for December Rebounds, Reflecting Maxed-Out Capacity

FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index (TCI) for December rebounded after a one-month lull in November to a strong 9.2 reading, reflecting a full capacity environment driven by continued strength in freight demand. FTR expects the index to remain elevated and even increase further in 2018. Trucking capacity is essentially maxed out, resulting in the strongest freight rates in years.

Details of the December TCI are found in the February issue of FTR’s Trucking Update, published January 31, 2018. The ‘Notes by the Dashboard Light’ section in the current issue takes a close look at the Owner-Operator market.  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.

Jonathan Starks, Chief Operating Officer at FTR, commented, “Fleets have been running very efficiently the past few years, with capacity utilization in the high 90% range. Couple this efficiency with increases in freight volumes and productivity hits due to weather and regulations, and it’s no surprise to the industry that the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018 have been good for carriers. We are seeing robust orders for trucks and trailers, serious recruitment drives, and the type of rate increases which make these expenditures feasible. In terms of the overall economy and freight demand, we are looking at strong potential for further upside possibilities for carriers.”

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.

Trucking Update, published monthly, is part of FTR’s Freight Focus series and reports data that directly impacts the activity and profitability of truck fleets. As part of the Trucking Update, FTR forecasts expected trends in this data and the probable short and long-term consequences. For more information on how to subscribe to Trucking Update, or other publications within the Freight Focus series, send an email to sales@ftrintel.com or call (888) 988-1699 ext. 1.

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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