[WHITE PAPER] SONAR highlight reel: West Coast freight markets loosen across modes

Tony MulveyFreight Market Blog, White Papers

This “SONAR highlight reel” hits data highlights/trends in truckload, intermodal and maritime in 2-3 pages for each mode. 

The truckload market (pages 2-6) is finally showing signs of easing as rejections have continued to decline throughout February. Accepted tender volumes continue to outpace year-ago levels, despite difficult comps. The decline in rejections can largely be attributed to contracts being repriced higher and capacity entering the market, though constraints are still prevalent. Spot rates have yet to retreat significantly from recent highs even with rejection rates pulling back.

Domestic intermodal (pages 7-9) volume is showing mid-single digit growth year-to-date while international intermodal volume is showing double-digit declines as port congestion impairs loadings. Plus, a loosening dry van market on the West Coast presents the highway as a more viable option in the densest intermodal lanes. Domestic intermodal contract rates in SONAR show 2022 rates 13% above 2021 averages – that spread will decline as the year progresses, but it’s clear that intermodal rates will be higher y/y in 2022, particularly in the first half of the year.          

Maritime import (pages 10-13) volume levels remain near peak-season levels despite a decline in bookings following the Lunar New Year. Bookings levels are set to rebound in the coming week, especially from China to the U.S.  where bookings fell to the lowest level since June 2020. Ocean rates have remained relatively stable over the past month as securing capacity on the ocean remains remarkably difficult.