FTR Intel is reporting its March Shippers Conditions Index (SCI) rose two full points from February to a reading of 2.8, reflecting a continued easing of truckload and intermodal rates.
The outlook is for improved shipper conditions through 2019, FTR said. However, some key areas to watch are fuel price increases and capacity utilization in trucking, which can result in added costs for shippers.
“Shippers are benefiting from relatively stable fuel prices and weaker trucking capacity utilization than they experienced in 2018,” said Todd Tranausky, vice president of rail and intermodal at FTR. “But both of those metrics are expected to tighten up as the year progresses. Diesel prices could move up in the fourth quarter ahead of the IMO 2020 fuel mandate, which could pressure fuel surcharges higher late in 2019.”
The May issue of FTR’s Shippers Update details the factors affecting the March Shippers Conditions Index. Also included is data and analysis on load volumes, the capacity environment, rates, costs, and the truck driver situation.
FTR’s SCI tracks the changes representing four major conditions—freight demand, freight rates, fleet capacity and fuel price—in the US full-load freight market. The individual metrics are combined into a single index that tracks the market conditions that influence the shippers’ freight transport environment.
A positive score represents good, optimistic conditions. A negative score represents bad, pessimistic conditions, providing a snapshot of the industry’s health.