Signs Of Improvement In Truckload

June 17, 2009
Morgan Stanley's proprietary Truckload Freight Index shows slowing rate of improvement.

Though its proprietary Truckload Freight Index remains at record lows, Morgan Stanley Research reports some signs of improvement. However, the rate of improvement appears to be slowing.

“Two weeks certainly aren't a trend,” caution the analysts, “but the sequential improvement in our Truckload Freight Index has slowed over the past two weeks.”

Dry-van demand lost momentum, says the report, but there could still be a risk for idled capacity to come back into the market as demand recovers.

“We believe the economic recovery will be slow, in line with Morgan Stanley Economic forecasts, and won't be enough to close the large supply-demand mismatch [in truckload]. Equally important, a slow recovery creates more opportunity for supply to match demand, which means the next truckload capacity crunch may never emerge,”

It's still a shipper's market. The analysts noted that truckload carriers have very little leverage when it comes to driving volumes, but they do have leverage on price. Without a sharp recovery or “fuel-induced mass exodus of supply as a catalyst,” the analysts suggest carriers are unlikely to generate much pricing power.

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