FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index for November 2023 improved to -1.35, up from October’s -6.07. The gain primarily came from a sharp drop in fuel prices, but all key factors contributing to FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index were more favorable for carriers in November, FTR said. However, the outlook remains negative through late 2024.
TCI tracks the changes in five major conditions in the U.S. truck market: freight volumes, freight rates, fleet capacity, fuel prices and financing costs. Those individual metrics are combined into a single index indicating the industry’s overall health. A positive score represents optimistic conditions, zero is neutral, and a negative score represents pessimistic conditions. Double-digit readings in either direction suggest significant operating changes are likely.
“Unfortunately for carriers, November’s market conditions likely were the least unfavorable that they will be through at least the first half of this year barring another sustained slide in diesel prices.” says Avery Vise, FTR’s vice president of trucking. “However, as we have noted frequently, lower fuel costs are complicated. Falling diesel prices tend to slow exits of very small carriers, which could further depress capacity utilization and deflate any upward pressure on rates. Meanwhile, freight demand shows no signs of improving significantly in the near term. Trucking should see incremental improvement throughout 2024 but not enough to create any real inflection in the market economy.”