ACT Research: Green Shoots Suggest an Improving Freight Market Balance in 2024

According to the latest release of ACT Research’s For-Hire Trucking Index, the freight market is continuing to recover, with the volume index increased by 2.3 points in February to a seasonally-adjusted mark of 52.3 from 50 in January.

“The U.S. economy continues to surpass expectations, and with goods prices now declining, retail sales are likely to recover in the coming months,” Carter Vieth, a research analyst at ACT Research, said. “Supporting the retail recovery is solid real income growth, a strong job market and the end of the post-pandemic services boom. And after an 18-month destock, signs point to a restock beginning.”

The capacity index decreased by 1.1 points month over month to 48.7 in February. According to ACT Research, the decrease continues to reflect the tight spot many for-hire fleets are in, with low rates and higher costs eating into profitability.

“For-hire capacity has contracted for the past eight months, and with many large fleets lowering capex budgets in 2024 and delaying additions, capacity declines are likely to continue,” Vieth said.

The supply-demand balance increased in February to 53.5 from 50.2 in January as capacity decreased and volumes increased.

“This marks the seventh consecutive month in which the supply-demand balance has turned positive mainly on capacity contraction, but improving volumes have also contributed, which should continue,” Vieth said.

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