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Analysts: Freight Markets Strong, But Uncertainty Ahead

Freight and commercial vehicle markets are likely to remain hot, but “there might be a cloud or two on the horizon,” according to ACT Research.

As reported by Trucknews.com, Tim Denoyer, vice-president and senior analyst, said the freight market remains strong, and repeated his projection for a peak season that will be “stronger for longer” than norms.; while, Jim Meil, industry analyst, noted there are some concerns about Covid, inflation, rising oil prices, supply chain disruptions, and labour availability.

“Truckload volumes will stay strong through the holidays,” Denoyer said.

Next year some of the tailwinds driving freight volumes and rates this year will disappear, but anticipated infrastructure spending will give freight another boost. Industrial demand is also expected to improve next year – another boon for freight.

But Denoyer said the industry will likely see a freight recession in 2023, “after an extraordinarily long cycle.”

He noted driver availability is gradually improving, and the industry forecaster is seeing early signs of a rebalancing in the market. ACT is forecasting double-digit truckload rate increases this year, followed by a sharp slowdown in 2022, with the pricing pendulum swinging back in favor of shippers by mid-2022.

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FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index (TCI), which measures the health of the trucking industry, remained elevated in July but eased from prior months.

“We have yet to see any softening of market conditions that are basically the strongest trucking companies have ever seen – certainly for such a prolonged period,” said Avery Vise, FTR’s vice-president – trucking.

“However, we are finally seeing some movement toward more driver capacity. The recovery in trucking’s payroll employment has accelerated over the past three months even as the number of newly authorized carriers – most of which would not be captured by payroll job data – continues to set records. Meanwhile, the number of pre-employment queries in the drug and alcohol clearinghouse in August was the highest recorded since the clearinghouse began in January last year. These developments have not shown up in any weakening of trucking conditions, but they certainly increase the chances for some stabilization in the coming months.”

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