FTR: Freight Environment Soft, But Stable

FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index slipped into negative territory again for September when it hit its lowest point since May, reflecting a relatively weak environment for carriers.

The TCI, which tracks five major conditions that affect the U.S. truck market, showed a reading of -2.94 in September, down from -1.1 the month before. Major conditions being considered by TCI include freight volumes, freight rates, fleet capacity, fuel prices and financing. The overall score is an indicator of the trucking industry’s overall health.

A negative score represents bad, pessimistic conditions and readings of near zero are consistent with a neutral operating environment. Despite the low reading for September, FTR does not believe that there will be any further eroding of the TCI, instead staying near-neutral through the first half of 2020.

“The near-term outlook for trucking conditions remains stable with little growth expected in freight volume and no growth expected in active capacity,” said Avery Vise, vice president of trucking for FTR. “Risks to this outlook appear mostly negative, including the potential for higher diesel prices in the wake of impending changes in global maritime fuel requirements. The big questions are whether the industrial sector will improve or weaken further and whether consumer spending will remain a firewall against declines in overall freight volume.”

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