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FTR Shippers Condition Index stuck in neutral entering 2011

FTR Associates reports that the Shippers Condition Index (SCI) was hovering near the neutral reading of zero at the end of 2010, reflecting the continuing effects of the earlier pause in the economic recovery. This information was reported in the January 2011 issue of the Shippers Update.

The SCI sums up all market influences that affect shippers; a reading above zero suggests a favorable shipping environment, while a reading below zero is unfavorable. FTR projects that the SCI will soon significantly worsen due to tightening carrier capacity as the economy reaccelerates and new federal trucking regulations take hold.

Launched by FTR during 2010 as a part of its Freight Focus Series, the Shippers Update looks at conditions that will affect the cost and efficiency of shipping goods via all transportation modes. It offers both history and forecasts for four modal options: truckload, less-than-truckload, intermodal, and rail carload. The analysis includes a breakdown of total truck and rail volumes into major commodity segments. It also provides historical snapshots of inland water and air freight markets. Freight data is augmented by supporting data covering macro-economics and the fuel market.

FTR projects the next surge in truckload rates will come about during Q2 2011 as freight picks up seasonally. LTL rates, while increasing through 2011 and 2012, will lag behind TL rates because of more favorable driver hiring conditions. Improving freight growth will also increase freight rates for both rail and intermodal segments as well through 2011 and 2012. Commentary discussing the new hours of service regulations is included in the report.

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