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 Trucking Conditions Index Was Stronger But Still Negative in January

FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index (TCI) showed substantial improvement in January, rising to a -1.71 reading from December’s -6.1. Stronger freight volume and rates partially offset weaker utilization and a fuel cost environment that was not as positive as it had been in December. January’s TCI might prove to be the least unfavorable for carriers for a while. FTR’s current outlook is for consistently negative TCI readings into the third quarter of 2024, although swings in diesel prices could yield some outliers. Fuel costs certainly will be a positive contributor to the February index.

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Avery Vise

VP of Trucking

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Avery Vise commented, “While overall market conditions for trucking companies remain negative, we still see varied impacts among carriers based on size and type of operation. For example, freight volume in the van segments looks largely stable or better after a decline in the second half of last year, but more specialized segments are expected to see continued weakness this year. Also, financing costs have been a consistently negative factor for about nine months as the Federal Reserve battles inflation with higher interest rates, but those costs tend to hurt smaller operations more than larger ones. The recent troubles in the banking sector have further increased the degree of uncertainty as the economy and freight markets move toward a post-pandemic norm.”

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