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Fuel prices put pressure on trucking conditions

Industry forecaster FTR’s Trucking Condition Index (TCI) fell into negative territory in May, as rising fuel prices put cost pressures on carriers.

The -0.3 reading was down from a positive 3.21 score in April. The spike in diesel costs offset slightly improved freight market conditions for carriers, FTR reported.

Freight demand, capacity utilization, and freight rates were all up slightly in May but still unable to overcome the negative impact of rising fuel costs. FTR projects the index to remain close to neutral territory in the coming months.

Trucking conditions chart

“Upward pressures on trucking conditions are largely history at this point. The question now is how high and strong of a floor remains,” said Avery Vise, vice-president – trucking, with FTR.  

“Employment data from recent months suggest that drivers are readily available for larger carriers, although much of that growth surely is coming at the expense of very small carriers that are failing due to record diesel prices – at least until recent weeks – and normalizing spot rates. Meanwhile, despite soaring inflation and other worries, consumer spending and industrial production have remained surprisingly healthy. Driver capacity has faded as a wild card as the resilience of freight demand has taken its place.”

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