The trucking industry will outperform the U.S. economy this year, with truck freight growing 3.9 percent, greater than overall GDP, according to FTR Associates.
The research firm’s Trucking Conditions Index slipped slightly in January to 6.1, still a solid positive reading. Higher fuel prices are pressuring carriers, FTR said.
Any index reading above zero indicates an “adequate” trucking environment, with readings above 10 signaling favorable pricing and volumes for truckers.
FTR’s January index reading supports claims that trucking supply was roughly in balance with shipper demand in the post-holiday months of January and February.
Carriers have reported only a slight decline in freight volume in the first months of 2012, and many companies saw stronger post-holiday volumes than expected.
Truckload and less-than-truckload pricing should rise in the 3 to 5 percent range in 2012, trucking analysts said recently in a webcast on trucking contacts.
Baring a significant economic slowdown or a Mideast confrontation that spikes fuel prices, “the fundamentals for the trucking industry are expected to continue to strengthen throughout the year,” said FTR Senior Consultant Larry Gross.
“We could well see a surprise on the upside if important sectors such as automotive and even housing continue to improve,” he said.