FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index (TCI) for March dropped from the previous month of 15.41 to a reading of 10.30. This, however, is not indicative of any fundamental change in the current freight demand climate, FTR noted.
Indeed, year over year the TCI remains more than triple the 2017 reading of 2.97. The carrier-favorable environment is not expected to see any real change at least through 2018 with even more positive conditions during the second and third quarter. FTR forecasts conditions for carriers stabilizing at a high level into 2019 as fleets continue to add capacity and the supply chain adjusts to the ELD regulation.
“While diesel prices increases are a negative for the carriers, the relatively modest uptick in recent fuel costs is more than offset by significant gains in pricing and overall strong demand for transportation,” said Jonathan Starks, chief intelligence officer at FTR. “The Market Demand Index published by Truckstop.com and FTR shows that the spot market is once again tightening, rising each of the last four weeks to 58.1 in week 18. It is likely to hit new record highs as we approach the summer shipping season at the end of May.”
“The latest data suggests that the capacity crunch has stabilized somewhat following the electronic logging device implementation, but it certainly has not abated,” added Avery Vise, vice president of trucking research. “The most recent jobs report serves as a warning that carriers might find adding capacity tougher in the months ahead, an outcome that could help maintain margins but limit revenue opportunities.”
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. 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.
Details of the March TCI are found in the May issue of FTR’s Trucking Update, published April 27, 2018. The ‘Notes by the Dashboard Light’ section in the current issue includes an in-depth analysis of the flatbed transportation segment. 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.