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DAT Solutions says fewer trucks meant higher rates in September

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Van rates averaged $1.84 per mile in September, up 4 cents from the prior month and 30 cents below September 2018, when the rate was exceptionally high. Van volume fell 6.9 percent from August but tighter capacity and weather kept rates on solid footing. (Courtesy: DAT SOLUTIONS)

PORTLAND, Ore. — Truckload freight markets turned a corner in September. Demand remained strong throughout the month, while the combination of tighter capacity and fuel price increases pushed spot market rates higher.

Volumes for dry van, refrigerated and flatbed freight declined from their August peaks but were higher than September 2018 numbers, according to the DAT Truckload Freight Volume Index. The index reflects changes in the actual number of spot market loads moved each month.

“Truckload volume has been strong all year long, but pricing hasn’t always kept pace,” said Peggy Dorf, market analyst with DAT Solutions. “That’s because truckload rates are tied more closely to capacity than volume, and last month a number of events limited truck availability in key markets for shippers and freight brokers.”

Hurricane Dorian disrupted supply chains early in the month, with the spot market kicking into action for resupply and recovery efforts along the Southeast coast. Flooding along the Gulf Coast after Tropical Storm Imelda stalled freight movements later in the month.

Meantime, fall harvests and retail shipments spurred by Halloween kept trucks in high demand, and the close of the third quarter led to a spike in activity to end the month.

Van rates averaged $1.84 per mile in September, up 4 cents from the prior month average. The average rate was 30 cents below the high prices of September 2018. Van volume fell 6.9 percent from August, but compared to last year, September van volume rose 15 percent.

Fall produce harvests pushed reefer load counts 10 percent higher than they were in September 2018, despite the 7.6 percent decline from last month’s peak demand. Nationally, reefer rates averaged $2.16 per mile in September, a 2-cent increase over August but a 35-cent drop from September 2018.

Flatbed markets have lagged in 2019 but spot market prices began to stabilize last month. The national average stayed at $2.19 per mile, the same as August, but 32 cents below the high rates from September 2018. Flatbed volume declined 8.2 percent compared to August but load counts remained 14 percent above where they were last year.

“The spot market gained a lot of momentum heading into quarter four,” Dorf said. “We expect demand to remain elevated through the rest of the year, and the holiday shipping season should push van rate higher than we saw in quarter three.”

DAT market trends and data insights are derived from 256 million annual freight matches and a database of $65 billion in annual market transactions. Related services include a comprehensive directory of companies with business history, credit, safety, insurance, and company reviews; broker transportation management software; authority, fuel tax, mileage, vehicle licensing, and registration services; and carrier onboarding.

 

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ACT Research For-Hire Trucking Index: Bottoming process under way?

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ACT Research Vice President and Senior Analyst Tim Denover said a recent surge in the For-Hire Trucking Index is being partially driven by strong consumer trends. (Courtesy: ACT RESEARCH)

COLUMBUS, Ind. — The latest release of ACT’s For-Hire Trucking Index with September data showed an even stronger surge than July with the Volume Index up to 59.6 (seasonally-adjusted) from 47.6 in August.

The September Pricing Index rebounded as well, if to a lesser degree, rising to 52.2 (SA), from 47.1 in August.

The ACT For-Hire Trucking Index is a monthly survey of for-hire trucking service providers. ACT Research converts responses into diffusion indexes, where the neutral or flat level is 50. In return, participants receive a detailed monthly analysis of the survey data, including volumes, freight rates, capacity, productivity and purchasing intentions, plus a complimentary copy of ACT’s Transportation Digest report.

“We remain mindful of shippers’ duty to manage tariff risk, but this surge is likely also being driven by strong consumer trends,” said Tim Denoyer, ACT Research’s vice president and senior analyst. “With still-aggressive private fleet growth and a weak U.S. manufacturing sector, choppy results will likely continue, but the past few months suggest a bottoming process is underway. It won’t be linear, as record U.S. Class 8 tractor retail sales in September tell us capacity is still being added rather quickly, but capacity rebalancing will unfold over the course of next year.”

Buying intentions pulled back materially in September, falling to 48.3% of respondents planning to buy trucks in the next three months, from 53.9% in August (SA).

Regarding purchase intentions, Denoyer said, “The unsustainable pattern of low orders with long backlogs supporting record purchasing is set to end right around the new year, and notably it’s the private fleets, not the for-hire carriers, that are still adding capacity.”

The ACT Freight Forecast provides forecasts for the direction of volumes and contract rates quarterly through 2020 with three years of annual forecasts for the truckload, less-than-truckload and intermodal segments of the transportation industry. For the truckload spot market, the report provides forecasts for the next twelve months. The ACT Research Freight Forecast uses equipment capacity modeling and the firm’s economics expertise to provide unprecedented visibility for the future of freight rates, helping businesses in transportation and logistics management plan for the future with confidence.

ACT Research is a publisher of commercial vehicle truck, trailer, and bus industry data, market analysis and forecasts for the North America and China markets.

For-hire trucking executives interested in participating in the For-Hire Trucking Index should email trucks@actresearch.net.

 

 

 

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DAT Solutions says spot loads declined 5% for week ending October 22

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Chart shows rates for three segments of the trucking industry for the past four months. (Courtesy: DAT SOLUTIONS)

PORTLAND, Ore. — Despite higher freight volumes in several key markets, load postings fell 5% nationwide and truck posts dipped 1% during the week ending October 22, said DAT Solutions, which operates the industry’s largest electronic marketplace for spot truckload freight.

National average spot van, refrigerated, and flatbed rates were mostly unchanged compared to the previous week.

National Average Spot Rates for October (through October 22) include:

  • Van: $1.81 per mile, 3 cents lower than the September average
  • Flatbed: $2.20 per mile, unchanged compared to September
  • Reefer: $2.12 per mile, 4 cents lower than September

Van Trends

Spot van rates were higher on just 33 of DAT’s Top 100 largest van lanes by volume. Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles, three of the most important van markets, all showed higher volumes last week, although average outbound rates declined in each. The Los Angeles load-truck ratio hit 4.1 last Friday after starting the week at 2.5 (neutral) and dipping as low as 1.8 on Tuesday. It’s a sign that import traffic is moving eastbound.

Where rates were up: Volume from Seattle increased slightly and outbound rate gained 5 cents to $1.58 per mile. Key lanes included:

  • Seattle to Salt Lake City, up 7 cents to $1.94 per mile
  • Seattle to Los Angeles, up 6 cents to $1.36 per mile

Seattle is the only major van market where rates are higher over the past four weeks.

Reefer Trends

A combination of produce from Mexico and strong domestic agricultural shipments from California, Florida, Texas, and the Upper Midwest has pushed spot reefer volumes 9% higher over the past four weeks yet the national average rate has declined 3% at the same time.

Where rates were up: Reefer volumes from Nogales, Arizona, increased 68% compared to the previous week and the average outbound rate rose 7 cents to $1.75 per mile. McAllen, Texas, volume jumped 38% although the average outbound rate held at $1.95 per mile. Other high-volume markets last week also had plenty of trucks, which helped tame any changes in rates.

This weekly spot-rate snapshot is derived from DAT RateView, which provides real-time reports on spot market and contract rates, as well as historical rate and capacity trends. The RateView database is comprised of more than $65 billion in annualized freight payments. DAT load boards average 1.2 million load searches per business day.

For more information, visit www.dat.com/Trendlines.

 

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OIG to audit FMCSA’s oversight of compliance of state CDL programs

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In initiating the audit, the Department of Transportation Office of the Inspector General not that there had been an 11% increase in fatalities in crashes involving large trucks or buses. (©2019 FOTOSEARCH)

WASHINGTON — A fatal traffic accident in Massachusetts involving a tractor trailer has prompted the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Transportation to initiate an audit of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s review of state commercial driver’s license programs to determine whether those programs comply with CDL regulations.

The OIG Tuesday notified the FMCSA of its intent.

The notice said that earlier this year, a fatal crash involving a commercial driver led to an internal investigation by the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) that found that RMV had not systematically processed out-of-state paper notifications of driver convictions in about five years.

The OIG said that investigation also identified a software flaw that hindered RMV’s ability to process out-of-state electronic notifications in a timely manner.

Consequently, this past summer, RMV issued thousands of CDL suspensions, based on previously unprocessed out-of-state notifications.

“Accordingly, our objective for this self-initiated audit is to assess FMCSA’s oversight of state driver’s licensing agencies’ actions to disqualify commercial drivers when warranted,” wrote Barry J. DeWeese, assistant Inspector General for surface transportation audits. “We will begin the audit immediately and coordinate with your audit liaison to schedule an entrance conference. We will conduct our audit at FMCSA.”

DeWeese noted that the FMCSA’s primary mission is to reduce crashes, injuries, and fatalities involving large trucks and buses, but said that in recent years, the number of large trucks and buses on the roads has increased.

Similarly, he said, according to FMCSA data as of June 2019, fatalities in crashes involving large trucks or buses have grown from 4,455 in 2013 to 4,949 in 2018, an 11% increase.

A spokesman for FMCSA said as it always does, the agency would cooperate with the OIG to complete the audit.

 

 

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