Trucking Conditions Index Continues to Trend Negative

FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index (TCI) fell nearly two points in May to a reading of -2.3.  The TCI has been in negative territory since March and reflects a general weakness in conditions affecting carriers. The outlook is for relative stability through the year, however, with the possibility of some slightly positive readings during the period. The May TCI reading was primarily brought down by the softening rate environment.  Freight demand was the only positive contributor in the May measure, albeit not a particularly strong one.

Trucking Conditions Index, May 2019

Avery Vise, vice president of trucking, commented, “Although we have dropped from double-digit TCI readings to negative readings in less than a year, we believe the outlook for the rest of 2019 generally is for stability close to neutral conditions. It’s also important to recognize that most of the weakness is in the industrial sector, so trucking activity related to consumer demand should be relatively stronger than the rest of the industry.”

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. 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.

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