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US trucking conditions poised for upswing: FTR

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Trucking conditions in the US deteriorated in March, but rising spot market freight rates suggest capacity may be tightening.

The latest FTR Trucking Conditions Index (TCI) fell to a reading of 2.97 in March, after an upturn in February. The industry forecaster is projecting an upswing in market conditions for truckers throughout 2017 and into 2018.

“The TCI has settled into a positive, but not robust, level of market conditions over the last 12 months. The main reasons for the reduction in the March TCI stems from slightly weaker freight activity, reduced estimates of capacity tightness, and continued weaker-than-expected conditions for contract rates,” explained Jonathan Starks, chief operating officer of FTR.

“Trucking conditions are likely to stay in this moderate range until late this year when the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate comes into effect. Once you combine the productivity hit coming from full implementation of ELDs with continued freight growth and the capacity reductions that have already occurred, you get a market that is poised to see significant movement in rates.”

FTR pointed out’s market demand index, a measure of tightness in the freight-matching sector, is up nearly 100% year-over-year, with prices showing 5% gains. Starks said that is “enough of a move to convince us that the market is continuing to turn in a carrier’s direction.”

US trucking conditions index from FTR.

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