ACT Research: Green Shoots in May For-Hire Trucking Index

The latest release of the For-Hire Trucking Index by ACT Research continues to reflect a slowly recovering for-hire trucking market. The Volume Index increased 12.7 points in May to 54.4, seasonally adjusted, from 41.7 in April.

“Whether May’s volume increase will hold is an open question, but this matches the best result in 28 months,” Carter Vieth, research analyst at ACT Research, said. “Roadcheck may have contributed to more loads going to medium and large fleets, of which our respondent base is largely comprised. Positively, freight activity is also increasing at ports, border crossings and in intermodal volumes.”

Overall, truckload volume data remain mixed, with the Cass Freight Index and DAT spot loads still at cycle lows.

The Capacity Index increased by 1.4 points month over month to 45.6 in May but was still the eighth lowest reading in the survey’s nearly 15-year history.

“The capacity reading continues to reflect challenging for-hire conditions, with low rates and higher costs driving fleet contraction,” Vieth said. “For-hire capacity has contracted for the past eleven months and will likely continue as most large fleets have lowered or delayed capacity additions. As demand gradually recovers, for-hire contraction should start to moderate.”

The Supply-Demand Balance rose in May to 58.7, seasonally adjusted, from 47.5 in April, as volumes increased more than capacity.

“It is worth reiterating the question mark of whether this month’s volume gains are sticky,” Vieth said. “Private fleet expansion, which is not captured in this indicator, is resulting in a longer lead time to higher market rates than in past cycles. So, overall equipment purchasing trends will remain key to watch. Continuing freight demand growth should provide ongoing support to the market balance.”

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