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FTR’s April Shippers Conditions Index Falls to New Low



Bloomington, IN (June 29, 2018) The Shippers Conditions Index (SCI) reading from FTR fell further into double digit negative territory in April at -13.4 signifying that there has not been capacity or rate relief for shippers in the current strong freight environment.  April may be the nadir in this cycle as conditions likely will not get significantly worse for shippers over the balance of the year.  Overall y/y rate growth is close to near-term peak. Shippers could see some stabilization in 2019 as more capacity comes on line.  However, there is no expectation for lower rates on an absolute basis until at least late 2019.  Total shipping costs, with transportation the largest share, are forecast to rise an estimated 12% y/y in 2018 with another 5% increase expected in 2019.


Jonathan Starks, chief intelligence officer at FTR, commented, “’s Market Demand Index for the past four weeks remains nearly double 2017. The spot market is producing record rates every few weeks, though this trend will soon hit its peak.”


Todd Tranausky, senior transportation analyst at FTR, commented, “Shippers facing significant increases in rates for truck and rail intermodal movements have not yet seen relief. However, record truck orders should begin hitting the market in the second half of the year, and we are closely watching the driver situation, which will determine if shippers see improvements as the trucks become available.”


The June issue of FTR’s Shippers Update, published June 8, 2018, details the factors affecting the February Shippers Conditions Index plus an assessment of the regulatory impacts on the market.



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. The index tells you the industry’s health at a glance. In life, running a fever is an indication of a health problem. It may not tell you exactly what’s wrong, but it alerts you to look deeper. Similarly, a reading well below zero on the FTR Trucking Conditions Index warns you of a problem...and readings high above zero spell opportunity. Readings near zero are consistent with a neutral operating environment. Double digit readings (both up or down) are warning signs for significant operating changes.


For more than two decades, FTR has been the thought leader in freight transportation forecasting in North America. The company’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 the work of FTR, visit, follow us on Twitter @ftrintel, or call (888) 988-1699, ext. 1.


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