FTR Associates on Wednesday, Oct. 12, reported that its Shippers Condition Index was unchanged in August, remaining at -3.8. The SCI sums up all market influences that affect shippers; a reading above zero suggests a favorable shipping environment, while a reading below zero is unfavorable. After a brief summer respite, FTR is forecasting a tighter, more negative environment for shippers beginning in the fourth quarter and running through the end of 2012.
“Despite the ongoing weakness occurring in the general economy, freight volumes are holding up, and the truck market continues to indicate that capacity is tight,” says Jonathan Starks, director of transportation analysis for FTR. “While our outlook for the SCI index moved up slightly versus last month, this was singularly driven by the recent declines in fuel prices.”
Starks says the main uncertainty at this time is when, or if, the anticipated hours-of-service rule changes are enacted. “Once they are in force, capacity in the truck markets will tighten considerably, leading to a much more unfavorable environment for shippers,” he says.