[WHITE PAPER] SONAR highlight reel: Shippers are frustrated, but at least football is back on TV

Tony MulveyFreight Market Blog, White Papers

This “SONAR highlight reel,” which we publish every other week, is intended to concisely hit data highlights and trends in truckload, intermodal and maritime. 

Holiday noise is dramatically impacting the major truckload indicators. Shippers’ requests for capacity are down mid-double digits in the past week, thanks to the Labor Day holiday. A snapback in freight volumes is expected in the coming days. Even with the holiday, securing capacity is still extremely difficult as the dizzying high spot rates prove.

There is plenty of demand for intermodal, but numerous capacity constraints (chassis, containers, drayage, terminal congestion, port congestion) continue to impair intermodal volume. In the most recent week, loaded international and domestic intermodal container volume is down 3.4% year-over-year (y/y) and 10.5% y/y, respectively. The Class I railroads have left intermodal spot rates essentially unchanged the past few weeks after increasing rates in early August, but rising dry van spot rates suggest that further spot rate increases may be forthcoming.     

Maritime capacity also remains elusive for shippers. While CMA CGM capped its spot rates, vessel charter prices, congestion, and even overall spot rates show no signs of easing. Congestion in San Pedro Bay is expected to worsen in the coming weeks with the number of container vessels at anchor forecast to increase to more than 50. Delays near ports, such as in San Pedro Bay, are reducing trans-Pacific capacity by ~20% and are keeping ocean capacity very tight.

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