FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index (TCI) in April fell more than two points to a reading of 5.91. The current reading is below the recent trend line for this index but is simply reflecting short term fluctuations inherent in the overall measurement of trucking conditions. The environment for carriers remains very positive, with rising prices and tight TL hauling capacity. FTR expects truck utilization to remain above 98% indefinitely with good freight demand, limited capacity, and sustained regulatory drag affecting the sector. These conditions continue to push pricing higher with an expected growth of 5% or greater during 2014.
Details of the March TCI Index are found in the June issue of FTR’s Trucking Update, published May 30, 2014. The ‘Notes by the Dashboard Light’ commentary discusses recession possibilities and what affect a recession might have on trucking. 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, commented, “Just as the truck environment continues to get back to normal, the revisions to the GDP data for Q1 gives everyone a moment of pause. How could we have had such a strong trucking market when the economy was apparently in decline? Part of the answer lies in the fact that goods movement was abnormal during this winter, and it likely led to a reduction in final inventories at many places. This was one of the biggest weak spots in Q1 GDP. So far, there is no indication that this has continued into Q2. The TCI took a modest hit during April but is still solidly positive and should stay higher for most of 2014. One of the main reasons for that comes from the pricing environment. Spot rates have leveled off but are still well above levels seen last year at this time. Contract rates, on the other hand, move up and down much slower as new contracts get slowly implemented over time. Trucking looks to be on very solid footing and should continue to show growth throughout 2014.”