FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index (TCI) for September, at a positive reading of 9.07, reflects strong underlying market trends. The TCI has moved up in the last couple of months, due to increased rate gains, and will remain in very positive but stable territory for the foreseeable future.
FTR expects little change in the TCI unless and until there is a change in the economy or increased regulatory drag on capacity. Capacity utilization currently stands within 100 basis points of its all-time record and is at the breakpoint between manageable tightness and crisis.
Jonathan Starks, FTR's director of transportation analysis, says: "Spot market activity and rates have been easing, but this is to be expected at this time of year. Rates are still well above year ago levels and will stay that way until we lap winter conditions in January and February. The contract market is lagging on rate growth, but we still see a concerted upward shift over the last year. The combination of HOS changes in 2013 with weather events in 2014 was enough to move market conditions in truckers favor. Contract negotiations will take place during the winter slow season, and we will see how much market clout the fleets are able to use. The real results will come later in the year. Successful shippers will be able to secure capacity and limit cost inflation by working with their carrier base rather than focusing on negotiating strength."
Details of the September TCI are found in the November issue of FTR's Trucking Update, published October 30, 2014. The ‘Notes by the Dashboard Light’ commentary explains the nuances of current economic data affecting trucking and how to interpret the information.