FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index for February improved to 11.23, the highest reading since October 2020 and up from January’s index of 10.37.
Strong capacity utilization and freight rates along with stable freight volume offset surging diesel fuel prices, which finally eased in late March after weeks of several months of increases, FTR officials said in a press release.
The near-term outlook for trucking is very strong with index expected to deliver double-digit positive readings beyond the second quarter and to remain in positive territory through 2022, FTR officials said.
“You could hardly devise better market conditions for trucking companies as demand is robust in both the consumer and industrial sectors and lingering labor-related challenges due to the pandemic are keeping a lid on capacity,” Avery Vise, FTR’s vice president of trucking said. “We do not expect any noticeable easing in this environment until this fall, and even when that occurs, we do not anticipate that conditions will stabilize as quickly as they did in late 2018 and 2019.”
The outlook is not without risks, Vise said, including shortages and disruptions in the supply chain.
“Even those risks arguably have an upside by potentially bolstering freight demand over a longer period,” Vise added.
The TCI tracks the changes representing five major conditions in the U.S. truck market, including freight volumes, freight rates, fleet capacity, fuel price and financing. The individual metrics are combined into a single index indicating the industry’s overall health.