FTR Intel’s Shippers Conditions Index (SCI) rose in June to a good positive reading of 8.8, up two points from the updated May measure.
The June SCI reading was the strongest since February 2016, FTR said.
Freight-related indicators are mixed. Manufacturing is growing very slowly, and construction is weaker. However, consumer spending remains strong.
“The relatively weak rate environment for truckload allows it to compete more effectively with intermodal,” said Todd Tranausky, vice president of rail and intermodal at FTR. “Intermodal volumes have been stymied by trade headwinds, changes in rail service offerings, overall rail service levels, and the weak truck market.
“International and domestic intermodal each struggled in June with weak results.”
Truckload rates are about 7.5% below 2019 ,with spot rates down nearly 18%, whereas less-than-truckload rates have been higher this year. Both are expected to decline in 2020, according to FTR.
Intermodal rates continue to be soft with rail expecting 5% growth in 2019.
Note: FTR revised the historical data for the Shippers Conditions Index back to January 2014 based on significant changes resulting from their July 2019 Freight•cast model update.