The Trucking Conditions Index (TCI) for January dropped 34% month-over-month, said FTR. The reading of 7.8 reflects “positive impacts from continued drops in fuel prices being offset by weaker inputs from freight rates, load growth, and capacity,” the firm said.
FTR said it expects the index to maintain a high level and move upward again in late 2015 in anticipation of more regulatory drag.
The Trucking Conditions Index is impacted when capacity utilization or prices change, FTR explained. Details of the December TCI are found in the March issue of FTR’s Trucking Update, published February 28, 2015.
“Despite the drop in the TCI from December to January, the index remains at a high level and is only slightly below the average score for 2014,” said Jonathan Starks, director of transportation analysis. “A drop was expected since the December TCI spike was caused by the rapid drop in diesel prices. Diesel prices have now bottomed in early February and are beginning to rise slowly, adding 11 cents at the start of March. Diesel’s impact on the TCI will slowly subside in 2015 but stay positive, unless the volatile energy markets jump higher.
According to Starks, the Market Demand Index (MDI) from truckstop.com indicates that the capacity situation is “much looser than last year but looks to have bottomed recently and has tightened the last three weeks, hitting 16.21 the first week of March.”
That number is down almost 40% since 2014, but up nearly 60% from its low in mid-February.
“I expect capacity to be more available during the spring shipping season since weather has been less disruptive and the HOS rollback has begun being implemented,” Starks added.