Market conditions are worsening for U.S. shippers as truck capacity tightens and fuel prices and surcharges rise, an index released by FTR Associates shows.
The FTR Shippers’ Condition Index dropped 48 percent from minus-7.7 in February to minus-11.4 in March. Any index number below zero is unfavorable to shippers.
At the same time, FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index has been rising, climbing 34 percent in the same period to 13.30, the Nashville, Ind.-based company said.
Any reading above zero indicates an “adequate” environment for truckers, FTR said, and a reading above 10 signals prices, volumes and margins are “in a good range.”
Normal seasonal weakness early in the first quarter obscured the shifting supply and demand balance in trucking, said Eric Starks, president of FTR.
“Now that we are moving into the higher freight months, the dimensions of the capacity situation are beginning to come into sharper focus,” Starks said.
Slower economic growth should stabilize the shipper index and even lead to some modest improvement, said Larry Gross, senior consultant for FTR.
“Such improvement would not, however, change our basic outlook for a difficult environment for shippers through the end of this year and well beyond,” he said.