FTR said that while freight market conditions were somewhat stronger than anticipated in...

FTR said that while freight market conditions were somewhat stronger than anticipated in December, it doesn't see that the fundamentals driving the market have changed materially.

Photo: Jim Park

FTR said its Trucking Conditions Index in December was the highest since January 2019 and the first positive reading since 0.28 in July.

The TCI rose to 3.02 in December on improved freight demand and spot rates, the trucking industry analytical firm reported. FTR expects the TCI to return to readings closer to neutral conditions before improving modestly in the second half of 2020.

"Market conditions were somewhat stronger than anticipated in December, but it’s probably a bit of an outlier," said Avery Vise, vice president of trucking. "We don’t see that the fundamentals have changed materially. Utilization remains soft, and we don’t see near-term pressure from freight demand. A stronger recovery probably would require capacity exiting the market faster than has been the case so far.”

The TCI tracks the changes representing five major conditions in the U.S. truck market. These conditions are: 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. A positive score represents good, optimistic conditions. Conversely, a negative score represents bad, pessimistic conditions. Readings near zero are consistent with a neutral operating environment, and double-digit readings (up or down) suggest significant operating changes are likely.

Details of the December TCI are found in the February issue of FTR’s Trucking Update, published January 31. The ‘Notes by the Dashboard Light’ discusses key 2019 economic indicators in the consumer, industrial, and trade sectors in relation to the rest of the 2010s. 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.

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