FTR Intel reports its revised Trucking Conditions Index (TCI) showed significant improvement in June but remained in slightly negative territory, with a reading of -0.82.
Strengthening freight demand and lower diesel prices were offset by weak truckload rates and easing capacity utilization, plus some higher financing costs that negatively affected carriers during the month. FTR’s forecast for the TCI is for it to remain in low single-digit negative range into 2020, but some positive readings are possible during 2019.
Details of the revised TCI for June are found in the August issue of FTR’s Trucking Update, published July 31. The ‘Notes by the Dashboard Light’ section in the current issue explains how FTR’s July 2019 Freight•cast model update affects key FTR metrics on the trucking industry, including the TCI. 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.
“Although rates remain weak for carriers, they appear at least to be stabilizing,” said Avery Vise, vice president of trucking at FTR. “Meanwhile, freight demand appears firmer in recent weeks than in early spring, but the outlook is far from rosy given a softening industrial sector. Our biggest near-term concern, however, is the potential impact of the trade war with China on consumer spending and business investment.”
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.