FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index (TCI) reading of 7.54 for February, while down slightly from the previous month, continues to reflect good news for trucking fleets as well as a warning to shippers seeking carriers to move their goods. The severe weather likely had a bigger impact and is not getting picked up in the data. When you adjust for weather, the TCI reading would be pushed above a reading of 10, certainly making this the tightest truck market on record. FTR expects the TCI to remain in this range throughout 2014, impacted by truck freight demand accompanied by regulatory drag hindering available capacity.
Details of the February TCI Index are found in the April issue of the Trucking Update published March 31, 2014. Notes by the Dashboard Light commentary discusses FTR’s Active Capacity Utilization benchmark and how it may be foretelling a capacity crisis on the horizon. Beginning in 2014, the Trucking Update includes new data and analysis on the truck driver situation. This will be a permanent addition to the report and greatly enhances the value of the service.
Jonathan Starks, FTR’s Director of Transportation Analysis, comments, “The most recent weekly spot market data shows that the spring thaw has come to truck demand with spot market capacity up and load activity down slightly - a plateau versus the last couple of months when both demand and pricing spiked while capacity was severely constrained. Both carriers and shippers have to be on the lookout for a potential tipping point when freight demand is able to keep the current high level of truck use well into the summer months. Such an environment would necessitate shippers bidding up rates to maintain secure capacity during the fall shipping season. FTR continues to evaluate the freight environment and currently sees enough moderation in truck demand to get through the year without a crisis - BUT, it would only take a relatively modest and short uptick in the industrial sector for capacity to tighten significantly further. We advise everyone to stay tuned to the manufacturing data to see if the thaw continues.”