FTR’s April Shippers Conditions Index (SCI) took a step back in April to a reading of 1.9, close to a full point below March.
The April SCI measure was negatively affected by stronger rail rates and higher fuel prices outweighing improved shipper conditions related to trucking. The outlook shows strong shipper conditions through 2019 as the rate environment is expected to become more favorable. Key factors to watch include fuel prices, truck utilization, and rail service, FTR says.
Todd Tranausky, vice president of rail and intermodal at FTR, commented, “Shippers should continue to expect favorable conditions and an ability to easily get freight placed in the market. They will be aided by the relatively stable fuel prices through most of the rest of 2019 and somewhat slowing rail freight volumes.”
The Shippers Conditions Index tracks the changes representing four major conditions in the U.S. full-load freight market. These conditions are: freight demand, freight rates, fleet capacity and fuel price. The individual metrics are combined into a single index that tracks the market conditions that influence the shippers’ freight transport environment. A positive score represents good, optimistic conditions. A negative score represents bad, pessimistic conditions. Readings near zero are consistent with a neutral operating environment. Double-digit readings (both up or down) are warning signs for significant operating changes.