[WHITE PAPER] SONAR highlight reel: Truckload demand stabilizes; 4Q surge may be forthcoming

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. 

 Truckload demand has stabilized at a high level after declining seasonally to start the fourth quarter.  Our data suggest that freight volume in the 4Q is likely to outperform 2020; accepted tender volume is up 7% y/y. Tender rejection rates have fallen some, but dry van and reefer tender rejection rates of 20.1% and 37.4% highlight a still-tight capacity environment for shippers. Plus, spot rates remain at or near their recent highs in many major lanes.  

The recent growth in domestic intermodal volume in October, which is up 8% from August-September levels suggests intermodal congestion might be getting “less worse.” While that is partially driven by transloading, the month-over-month improvement in domestic intermodal volume in most major lanes suggests that transloading is not the only factor contributing to domestic intermodal volume improvement.         

Eastbound trans-Pacific ocean rates declined for the fifth consecutive week. Ocean booking volume has picked up some for early November sailings, but the outlook for next month remains below September-October levels with most holiday-related imports already stateside. We expect a pickup in maritime imports later in the year as shippers look to get ahead of disruption from Chinese New Year, but the Asian energy crisis threatens to slow exports from China.

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