Graph via FTR

Graph via FTR

The FTR Trucking Conditions Index fell slightly in March to a reading of 7.3, reflecting lessened demand for truck services and normalizing fuel costs.

Despite the subdued reading, FTR expects truck demand to stabilize and companies to experience a rebound in the summer. Still, weak manufacturing numbers threaten the rebound as well as consumer spending.

As FTR see its, the rest of 2015 is expected to experience steady economic growth-- but how much the economy grows will depend on consumer spending.

“If consumers save that cash, it will likely mean another year of slow and steady economic growth,” said Jonathan Starks, FTR’s director of transportation analysis. “If they start spending, it could help fuel another surge in economic growth like we saw last year.”

Falling diesel prices helped fuel a surge at the end of last year, which was reflected in the TCI numbers. But the economy in the first quarter of 2015 has been weaker than expected.

“This recovery has been unusual in that Q1 GDP has generally been much weaker than the growth seen the rest of the year,” said Starks. "This gives us optimism that the truck markets will not be significantly slowed, although it is likely that manufacturing output will be less strong in 2015.”