FTR Associates' Shippers Conditions Index for November dropped 2.5 points from the previous month to a reading of -6.1 reflecting the seasonal tightening of shipping capacity.

The SCI sums up all market influences that affect shippers. A reading above zero reflects favorable conditions for shippers, while readings below zero favor transportation service providers.

FTR reported in its January Shippers Update that the trucking industry is currently in a stable phase with firm rates and modestly tight capacity. This is expected to continue throughout much of 2012. Because the revised Federal Hours of Service regulations have issued, the acute trucking capacity shortage that had been expected to hit in 2012 has been postponed until 2013

"The final Hours of Service regulations recently issued by the FMCSA were not as onerous as originally feared," says Larry Gross, senior consultant for FTR. "The enforcement date of mid-2013 provides plenty of time for the inevitable court challenges to proceed without imposing additional uncertainty costs on shippers and carriers. Nevertheless, unless there are further changes in this or other new regulations, or a major economic slowdown between now and the middle of next year, we still project a major capacity shortage in trucking for next summer."

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