After a spike to a 11.44 positive reading in December, FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index fell back to 5.79 in January as was expected. The January level was attributed to higher costs of capital along with lower freight demand and capacity utilization.
Details of the January TCI are found in the March issue of FTR’s Trucking Update, published February 28. The ‘Notes by the Dashboard Light’ section in the current issue digs deeply into the driver shortage outlook for fleets. 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.
Avery Vise, vice president of trucking, commented, “Trucking conditions in January were not the outlier that December conditions were, but the industry still enjoyed much lower diesel costs than had been the case for most of 2018. With diesel prices now rising and capacity utilization and freight rates easing, we would expect January to represent the high point for trucking conditions in 2019.”
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.
For more than two decades, FTR has been forecasting freight transportation in North America. The 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. The specially designed reports have resulted in advanced planning and cost-savings for companies throughout the transportation sector.
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.