[WHITE PAPER] SONAR highlight reel: Ocean rates to the moon

Tony MulveyWhite Papers

This “SONAR highlight reel” freight market update report, which we plan to publish every other week, is intended to concisely hit data highlights in the truckload, intermodal and maritime industries.  

June is typically a strong period for truckload demand and this June is proving to be no exception. Gaining steam from an already-high level, accepted tenders are up 4% over the past month and are 15% higher than 2020 levels. While tender rejection rates have declined from recent highs (to below 23%), we attribute that primarily to contracts being re-priced at sharply higher rates rather than any meaningful loosening of capacity.  

Major trends in intermodal data include: (1) international volume up nearly 30% y/y while domestic volume is down slightly; (2) international empty container volume is up 78% y/y; (3) eastbound headhaul lanes continue to show far greater volume and pricing growth than backhaul lanes; (4) spot rates have spiked in certain domestic intermodal lanes as carriers price to the market and respond to congestion. 

Meanwhile, the most notable data set showing movement in maritime is the Freightos Baltic Daily Index from China to the North American East Coast, which looks more like a meme stock chart than a series of freight rates and is now up over 200% y/y. The same index from China to the North America West Coast is up a relatively modest 174% y/y.

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