U.S. shipper conditions improved in July, but so too did trucking conditions, with both boosted by sharply falling diesel prices.

Industry forecaster FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index improved to a still negative reading of -0.7 in July, up from -3.36 in June. It was the third straight month of negative readings, which hasn’t happened since early 2020, FTR reports.

It expects trucking conditions to be in for a long period of moderate weakness.

“Trucking companies had a great run, but freight dynamics clearly have softened,” said Avery Vise, FTR’s vice-president – trucking.

“While the economy and freight markets look more resilient than many observers fear, risks are weighted to the downside. Market weakness will not be uniform, but the type of freight is hardly the only differentiator. Carriers heavily engaged in the contract arena should continue to fare significantly better than the total market, and those that have managed to contain costs during this inflationary environment certainly will be in a better position to prosper.”