ACT Research: Freight Market Balance Loose with Signs of Bottoming

The latest release of ACT Research’s For-Hire Trucking Index showed volumes and the supply-demand balance increased in December, while freight trucking rates continued to decline.

Concerning volume, Tim Denoyer, vice president and senior analyst at ACT Research, said, “We’re now nine months into this freight volume soft patch with lower goods spending, overstocked retail inventories and declining imports. The good news is that from a historical perspective, that means we’re closer to the end than the start.”

On rates, Denoyer said, “Pricing power clearly shifted to shippers in 2022, but the recent stabilization hints the bottoming process is beginning. Capacity continues to grow, with pent-up equipment demand still red hot, and freight demand is down, leaving the market balance loose near-term.”

On drivers, Denoyer said, “Our driver availability index remained at a cycle high of 57.7, reflecting medium and large fleets who act as safe havens in times like these. We also find the sharp slowdown in BLS trucking employment data interesting with regards to the industry at large.

“The supply/demand balance reading of 40.8 is better than its worst levels of recent months in the 37-38 range, signaling the freight cycle is starting to bottom. With capacity starting to slow and demand to recover eventually, the market should begin to rebalance in the not-too-distant future.”

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