FTR Shippers’ Condition Index is flat from December to January

The SCI dropped 0.2 points in January, the most recent month for which data is available, to -4.8, said FTR. The firm describes the SCI as an indicator that sums up all market influences that affect shippers

By ·

The most recent edition of the Shippers Condition Index (SCI) from FTR Associates showed that business conditions for shippers in January were flat compared to December.

The SCI dropped 0.2 points in January, the most recent month for which data is available, to -4.8, said FTR. December’s SCI was -4.8, and November’s SCI was 6.1. May’s -11.4 was the worst SCI reading of this current economic cycle. A reading above 0 suggests a favorable shipping environment, and FTR describes the SCI as an indicator that sums up all market influences that affect shippers, with a reading above zero being favorable and a reading below zero being unfavorable.

FTR said that this most recent SCI reflects a slow acceleration of freight growth that will continue to drive the index gradually lower over the course of 2012. And the firm pointed out in its March Shippers Update that truck utilization will remain relatively strong until new Hours of Service regulations are implemented next year, which could tighten capacity should freight growth continue at its current rate.

FTR Senior Consultant Larry Gross said that while FTR’s economic forecast is on the conservative side, freight growth will exceed GDP growth, which will keep capacity tight and keep freight rates up.

In an interview with LM, Gross said that freight transportation is currently in a period of stability, barring some exterior event like Middle East conflicts or something along those lines. But he cautioned that this stability has a bias towards tightening.

“As time goes on, we feel things will get better for carriers and more adverse for shippers,” Gross said. “We have to keep in mind, of course, that we are just coming out of the slack season, specifically with the increase from February to March being the biggest month-to-month increase of the year. That is not to say March is the busiest month of the year, because it is not. It is just the biggest one-month jump.”

Because this is the biggest monthly gain, Gross said it requires industry stakeholders to “step up their game” to a large degree.

Another thing to be cognizant of, explained Gross, is that even though the economy is again showing signs of recovering, shippers are being cautious because there is still a concern over whether the momentum occurring now will be sustained or not.

“Folks are hedging to the conservative side and from a freight perspective, I would say the absence of a big inventory re-build (which happened during the first half of both 2011 and 2012) is actually bullish, because it shows the levels we are now seeing are less vulnerable,” explained Gross.

And ongoing recent strength in the services sector, which was conspicuously absent in the recovery before, is now gaining momentum, too, which Gross said is a good sign as it represents up to 80 percent of economic activity.


About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

Subscribe to Logistics Management Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Article Topics

Freight · FTR Associates · GDP · All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
Reduce Order Processing Costs by 80%
Sales order automation software will seamlessly transform inbound emailed and printed purchase orders into electronic sales orders that can be automatically processed into your ERP system with 100% accuracy.
Download Today!
From the June 2016 Issue
In the wildly unstable ocean cargo carrier arena, three major consortia are fighting for market share, with some players simply hanging on for survival. Meanwhile, shippers may expect deployment shifts as a consequence of the Panama Canal expansion.
WMS Update: What do we need to run a WMS?
Supply Chain Software Convergence: Synchronization Realized
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Optimizing Global Transportation: How NVOCCs Can Use Technology to Operate More Profitably
Global transportation isn't getting any easier to manage, especially for non-vessel operating common carriers (NVOCCs). Faced with uncertainties like surcharges—but needing to remain competitive when bidding against other providers—NVOCCs need the right mix of historical data, data intelligence, and technology support to make quick and effective decisions. During this webcast you'll learn how Bolloré Transport & Logistics was able to streamline its global logistics and automate contract management.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
Details Key to Cross-border Ease
Ever-changing regulations are making it risky for U.S. companies engaged in cross-border trade...
Digital Reality Check
Just how close are we to the ideal digital supply network? Not as close as we might like to think....

Top 25 ports: West Coast continues to dominate
The Panama Canal expansion is set for late June and may soon be attracting more inbound vessel calls...
Port of Oakland launches smart phone apps for harbor truckers
Innovation uses Bluetooth, GPS to measure how long drivers wait for cargo