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ACT: ‘Green shoots’ in May for-hire trucking data

July 3, 2024
“Whether May’s volume increase will hold is an open question, but this matches the best result in 28 months,” ACT research analyst notes.

The latest release of ACT Research’s For-Hire Trucking Index continues to reflect a slowly recovering for-hire trucking market.

The Volume Index increased 12.7 points in May to 54.4, seasonally adjusted (SA), from 41.7 in April, ACT reported.

“Whether May’s volume increase will hold is an open question, but this matches the best result in 28 months,” Carter Vieth, ACT research analyst, said in a news release. “Roadcheck may have contributed to more loads going to medium and large fleets, of which our respondent base is largely comprised.

“Positively, freight activity is also increasing at ports, border crossings, and in intermodal volumes.”

Overall, truckload volume data remain mixed, with the Cass Freight Index and DAT spot loads still at cycle lows.

The Capacity Index increased by 1.4 points month over month to 45.6 in May but was still the eighth-lowest reading in the survey’s nearly 15-year history.

“The capacity reading continues to reflect challenging for-hire conditions, with low rates and higher costs driving fleet contraction,” Vieth said. “For-hire capacity has contracted for the past 11 months and will likely continue as most large fleets have lowered or delayed capacity additions.

“As demand gradually recovers, for-hire contraction should start to moderate.”

The Supply-Demand Balance rose in May to 58.7 (SA), from 47.5 in April, as volumes increased more than capacity, ACT added.

“It is worth reiterating the question mark of whether this month’s volume gains are sticky,” Vieth concluded. “Private fleet expansion, which is not captured in this indicator, is resulting in a longer lead time to higher market rates than in past cycles. So, overall equipment purchasing trends will remain key to watch. Continuing freight demand growth should provide ongoing support to the market balance.”

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