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FTR: Trucking conditions improve in April

June 17, 2024
Latest Trucking Conditions Index indicates a more hospitable environment for carriers, but excess capacity and sluggish freight demand remain an issue

FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index indicated a more hospitable environment for carriers in April but remained negative at a reading of -1.95, up from -7.25 in March.

Both freight rates and financing costs were less negative, and freight volume improved, FTR reported. The TCI has not been positive in any month since early 2022, and likely will remain mildly negative for the rest of the year, but the index could see some outlying positive readings as it moves closer to neutral territory.

“Better days are in sight for trucking companies, but the market still needs to work through the tough combination of too much capacity and sluggish freight demand,” Avery Vise, FTR vice president of trucking, said in a news release. “The May payroll jobs figures for trucking offered some encouragement that this transition is underway, but a healthier situation for carriers will require continued rightsizing of capacity and stronger volume.

“We still do not expect consistently favorable market conditions for carriers until early next year.”

The TCI tracks the changes representing five major conditions in the U.S. truck market: Freight volumes, freight rates, fleet capacity, fuel prices, and financing costs. 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 in either direction suggest significant operating changes are likely.

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