[WHITE PAPER] SONAR highlight reel: Shippers feel chills as October approaches

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. 

Spot rates have rebounded in the majority of the country after a post-Labor Day hiccup, according to Truckstop.com. Freight demand is unwavering on the back of a strong consumer, which sets up a stronger than normal peak season. Capacity constraints remain in place with no signs of easing in Q4. The backdrop for a stronger rate environment during the final quarter is as strong as it has ever been.

In the rail industry, we believe that mounting pressure from an activist investor may mark a dramatic shift in focus at Canadian National Railway from an approach that balances volume, pricing and margins to an approach that is overly focused on cutting costs and capital expenditures at the expense of service levels. Elsewhere in the rail industry, there remains plenty of demand for intermodal, but capacity is unable to keep up due to numerous capacity constraints (chassis, containers, drayage, terminal congestion, port congestion).     

Maritime capacity is being tied up along both coasts as backlogs at the ports continue to grow. Upward pressure on spot rates has started to dissipate, thanks to the ocean carriers announcing caps on their rates. Capacity is being re-routed to the trans-Pacific, which is fueling congestion while demand hasn’t wavered. Import volume levels continue to outperform year-ago levels.

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