FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index for March fell to -1.18, its first negative reading in several years. The measure reflects a softening environment for carriers as freight rates continue to ease and demand outlook is sluggish although positive. Active truck utilization, as well as the truckload (TL) rate outlook, continued to ease in March. The weakness in TL rates is mostly on spot rates, but the contract rate outlook also has turned slightly negative. FTR’s outlook for loadings growth is slightly down from previous forecast with y/y growth now expected to be just under 2%.
Avery Vise, vice president of trucking, commented, “The trucking industry has essentially returned to neutral conditions as deterioration in most market factors are offsetting continued solid, but not robust, freight demand. We generally expect this balance to continue into 2020, but TCI readings could turn positive or negative month to month based on relatively minor shifts in demand, utilization, rates, or costs.”
The Trucking Conditions Index tracks the changes representing five major conditions in the U.S. truck market: freight volumes, freight rates, fleet capacity, fuel price, and financing. A positive score represents good, optimistic conditions. Conversely, a negative score represents bad, pessimistic conditions.
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