FTR shippers conditions index deteriorates in February

FTR shippers conditions index deteriorates in February

FTR’s Shippers Conditions Index (SCI) for February, at a reading of -8.8, reflects an earlier than normal tightening of capacity created by the debilitating effects of winter storms in early 2014. Conditions are expected to improve from this low point if a slowing of freight growth persists; however, shippers are advised to acquire sufficient capacity until after the spring seasonal shipping peak. 2014 may be a very volatile year requiring increased shipper attention to market conditions.

Jonathan Starks, FTR’s Director of Transportation Analysis, commented, “Most of the components in the Shippers Conditions Index are only slightly negative (freight, costs, and fuel). The main drag comes from the very tight capacity situation that was highlighted this winter. This is a year to closely monitor signs for an economic uptick because it could have quick impacts on the transport sector. If the economy stays stuck in slow-growth mode and the weather finally behaves, we can expect the extremely tight capacity to normalize by mid-summer. If, however, we can finally get some additional economic activity, especially in the vital manufacturing sector, the tight truck environment will persist and could significantly worsen. Now is a time for careful planning for the quickly approaching fall shipping season.”

The Shippers Conditions Index is a compilation of factors affecting the shippers transport environment. Any reading below zero indicates a less-than-ideal environment for shippers. Readings below 10 signal that conditions for shippers are approaching critical levels, based on available capacity and expected rates. Details of the factors affecting the February Shippers Conditions Index along with additional commentary, discussing FTR’s Active Capacity Utilization benchmark and how it may be foretelling a capacity crisis on the horizon, are included in the April issue of FTR’s Shippers Update published April 8, 2014.

The Shippers Update, launched by FTR during 2010 as a part of the firm’s Freight Focus series, looks at conditions that will affect the cost and efficiency of shipping goods via all transportation modes. North American shippers will find in one reference the essential information they need on freight volumes, equipment capacity, and transport costs and rates. The Shippers Update has both history and forecasts for four modal options: truckload, less-than-truckload, intermodal, and rail carload. The analysis includes the breakdown of total truck and rail volumes into major commodity segments. It also provides historical snapshots of inland water and air freight markets. The freight data is augmented by an abundant collection of supporting data covering macro-economics and the fuel market.

FTR’s national award-winning forecasters collect and analyze all data likely to impact freight movement, issuing consistently reliable reports for trucking, rail, and intermodal transportation, as well as providing demand analysis for commercial vehicle and railcar. FTR’s forecasting and specially designed reports have resulted in advanced planning and cost-savings for companies throughout the transportation sector.

For more information about how to subscribe to the Shippers Update, send an e-mail to [email protected] or call 888-988-1699 ext. 1.

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