In its latest forecast, FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index (TCI) for September, at -2.94, was the lowest reading since May, reflecting a relatively weak environment for carriers. However, FTR does not forecast any further eroding of the TCI with an expected near-neutral measure through the first half of 2020.
“The near-term outlook for trucking conditions remains stable with little growth expected in freight volume and no growth expected in active capacity,” said Avery Vise, FTR’s vice president of trucking. “Risks to this outlook appear mostly negative, including the potential for higher diesel prices in the wake of impending changes in global maritime fuel requirements.
“However, the big questions are whether the industrial sector will improve or weaken further and whether consumer spending will remain a firewall against declines in overall freight volume," he explained.
The TCI tracks the changes representing five major conditions in the U.S. truck market: freight volumes, freight rates, fleet capacity, fuel price, and financing.
The individual metrics are combined into a single index indicating the industry’s overall health. A positive score represents good, optimistic conditions. Conversely, a negative score represents bad, pessimistic conditions. Readings near zero are consistent with a neutral operating environment, and double-digit readings (up or down) suggest significant operating changes are likely.