Trucking conditions improved in January: FTR

Trucking conditions in the U.S. improved this January, buoyed by stronger freight volumes and rates that helped to offset marginally weaker utilization and higher fuel costs, FTR reports.

The FTR Trucking Conditions Index – which tracks freight volumes, freight rates, fleet capacity, fuel prices, and financing costs — rose to -1.71 compared to December’s -6.1.

That might prove to be the “least unfavorable” rating for awhile, with FTR expecting negative readings for the index into the third quarter of 2024, depending on diesel prices.

January freight conditions
(Illustration: FTR)

“While overall market conditions for trucking companies remain negative, we still see varied impacts among carriers based on size and type of operation,” said Avery Vise, FTR’s vice-president – trucking.

“For example, freight volume in the van segments looks largely stable or better after a decline in the second half of last year, but more specialized segments are expected to see continued weakness this year,” he explained.

“Also, financing costs have been a consistently negative factor for about nine months as the Federal Reserve battles inflation with higher interest rates, but those costs tend to hurt smaller operations more than larger ones. The recent troubles in the banking sector have further increased the degree of uncertainty as the economy and freight markets move toward a post-pandemic norm.”

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