Morgan Stanley's

Truckload Freight Index

Comparisons will be increasingly difficult, says Morgan Stanley, as we enter a period that saw a remarkable surge in 2004. That said, the analysts are not concerned by the soft patch they were seeing, though they did indicate that if freight demand didn't begin to pick up, it could affect carrier earnings.

Carrier utilization continues to decline, according to Morgan Stanley, and pricing is decelerating. Those two factors indicate price increases should remain in the 4% to 6% range for the remainder of the year.

While increased capacity and some slowing in freight demand were not concerns at the time of the report, the effects of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita were not part of the outlook. Despite efforts to evacuate equipment from the port areas, a large number of containers and chassis could not be moved in time. The impact on capacity of these losses will become clear as demand and capacity come together in future weeks.

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