US trucking industry “slightly more bullish” in 2014

US consulting firm FTR said that North America’s trucking industry exited 2013 in a good shape, but reduced its overall forecast for 2015-16.

While FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index (TCI) dropped 20 per cent month-over-month in November, the consulting firm said it still reflected a positive environment for the trucking community.

“The regulatory drag from Hours of Service changes is reducing capacity, however upside economics have yet to be translated into real market tightness mitigating the rise in the index,” the company said – revealing that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) may delay most of the next round of planned regulatory changes affecting trucking, effectively lowering the TCI forecast for 2015 and 2016.

Jonathan Starks, FTR’s Director of Transportation Analysis, commented, “While we did see a slight dip in the TCI Index, the absolute level is still suggesting a relatively healthy trucking environment.

“We have also seen several positive indicators being reported in the industry during December and January that are making us slightly more bullish about the direction in the market as we enter 2014.”

According to Starks, some of the recent data suggests a significantly tightening capacity situation in trucking. “While some of the tightening is due to the storms that have plagued the US, it appears that the recovery in the manufacturing market, coupled with the Hours-of-Service regulations changes, are finally impacting the truck market as we have been predicting for several months.

“If this tightening continues it would be a significant boon for truckers, as they will finally have the ability to raise shipping rates.”

Elsewhere, FTR Senior Consultant and Economic Expert, Bill Witte, received the “Best Change in Private Inventories” award from the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago during their 2013 Economic Outlook Symposium.

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