Shippers Conditions Index Improves Sharply in May in Part due to Drops in Truckload Rates

FTR’s Shippers Conditions Index (SCI) for May improved sharply to a reading of 5.6, nearly four points higher than the April reading. Market conditions are the most favorable for shippers in years, FTR says, and are expected to continue in the current range for the remainder of 2019.  The principal reason behind the jump is continued softening of truckload and intermodal rates, with rail stabilizing. Fuel prices may put some pressure on shipper costs due to the recent rise in crude prices. However, those increases appeared to level off at under $60/barrel.

FTR Shippers Conditions Index, May 2019

Todd Tranausky, vice president of rail and intermodal at FTR, commented, “Softness in freight volumes combined with more abundant capacity in the truckload market than was present last year have made it a good time to be a shipper. Sustained weakness in freight volumes through the summer suggest the positive results for shippers could continue for much of the rest of 2019.”

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. Readings near zero are consistent with a neutral operating environment. Double digit readings (both up or down) are warning signs for significant operating changes.

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