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No spring break for spot van, reefer rates

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The map shows the various rate ranges for van load to rate ratios. (Courtesy: DAT TRENDLINES)

PORTLAND, Ore. — National average spot van and refrigerated freight rates slipped again during the week ending April 13 as the number of load posts fell 4% while truck posts increased 3%.

The arrival of produce season in several southern markets failed to make up for the effects of more capacity in the spot market and bad weather across much of the country, said DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards.

Here are the national average spot rates:

  • Van: $1.83/mile, 2 cents lower than the March average
  • Flatbed: $2.37/mile, 3 cents higher than March
  • Reefer: $2.15/mile, 2 cents lower than March

Van trends

How soft are spot van rates? Pricing was lower on 76 of the top 100 van lanes last week. Only 23 lanes saw rates rise and one lane was neutral.

Van load-to-truck ratios have not held up after a promising start to April, with the national average sitting at 1.3 loads for every available truck. The good news is that load counts rose nearly 5% in Chicago and Houston, and more than 3% in Los Angeles last week—major markets for spot van freight.

Markets to watch: Outbound rates were down from Los Angeles, Columbus, Ohio, Philadelphia, and Charlotte, North Carolina. Charlotte to Allentown, Pennsylvania, gave up 13 cents to $2.08/mile, and rates fell on two Buffalo-inbound lanes: Columbus to Buffalo, down 19 cents to $2.66/mile, and Chicago to Buffalo, off 19 cents to $2.31/mile.

Reefer trends

Prices rose on 38 of the top 72 reefer lanes last week. Thirty-one lanes were lower and three were neutral. Higher volume in Florida and California was balanced out by lower volume from the Upper Midwest and Texas, which hurt spot reefer pricing overall.

Markets to watch: Lakeland, Florida, volumes spiked nearly 27% last week while the average outbound rate climbed 2 cents to $1.57/mile. Let’s see if Lakeland rates trace the pattern in Miami, where a big jump in volume two weeks ago was followed by a nice gain in the average outbound rate ($1.80/mile, up 13 cents). Meanwhile, several lanes from Florida and California produced strong rates:

  • Fresno, California, to Denver up 40 cents to $2.24/mile
  • Fresno to Boston gained 19 cents to $2.23/mile
  • Miami to Baltimore up 29 cents to $2.00/mile
  • Miami to Elizabeth, New Jersey, rose 15 cents to $1.82/mile

The Imperial Valley is underperforming for reefer freight: last week the average outbound rate from Ontario, California, was $2.51/mile, down 8 cents, on 9% lower volume.

DAT Trendlines are generated using 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 $60 billion in freight payments. DAT load boards average 1.2 million load posts searched per business day.

For the latest spot market loads and rate information, visit dat.com/trendines and follow @LoadBoards on Twitter.

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ACT Research For-Hire Trucking Index: Weak finish to 2nd quarter

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The June Pricing Index at 43.8 (seasonally adjusted) recovered a good bit of last month’s sharp decline, up from 38.8 in May on a seasonally adjusted basis, the lowest in survey history. (Courtesy: ACT RESEARCH)

COLUMBUS, Ind. — The latest release of ACT’s For-Hire Trucking Index (June data) showed nearly across-the-board declines, with capacity again the lone exception.

The Volume Index dropped further into negative territory, falling to 43.2 (seasonally adjusted) in June from 46.7 in May.

The June Pricing Index at 43.8 (seasonally adjusted) recovered a good bit of last month’s sharp decline, up from 38.8 in May on a seasonally adjusted basis, the lowest in survey history.

“Volumes and utilization have been down seven of eight months, and the supply-demand balance has been loosening for eight straight months,” said Tim Denoyer, ACT Research’s vice president and senior analyst. “In line with several second quarter earnings warnings from truckload carriers this week, this is further confirmation of a weak freight environment. May’s Pricing Index looked a little anomalously bad, so it was good to see that pick back up, though still not a great level in June.”

Denoyer said volumes reached a new cycle low in June, likely due in part to rapid growth of private fleets, the slowdown in the industrial sector and some inventory drawdown.

“This coincides with most other freight metrics,” he said. “The supply-demand balance reading loosened to 41.4, from 42.1 in May. The past eight consecutive readings have shown a deterioration in the supply-demand balance, with June the largest yet.”

ACT is a publisher of new and used commercial vehicle (CV) industry data, market analysis and forecasting services for the North American market, as well as the U.S. tractor-trailer market and the China CV market. ACT’s CV services are used by all major North American truck and trailer manufacturers and their suppliers, major trucking and logistics firms, as well as the banking and investment community in North America, Europe, and China.

 

 

 

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Oil price rises on Mideast tensions, stock markets cautious

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After six weeks of declines that totaled 13 cents, the price of a gallon of diesel went up 1.3 cents a gallon for the week ending July 8 but dropped four tenths of a penny last week. (©2019 FOTOSEARCH)

BANGKOK — The price of oil rose on Friday after the U.S. said it had destroyed an Iranian drone near the Persian Gulf, where a lot of the world’s oil is shipped through. Stock markets were largely stable as investors monitor earnings and the ongoing trade talks between China and the U.S.

Energy prices were ratcheted higher after President Donald Trump said a U.S. warship had downed an Iranian drone that had been threatening. While Iran denied the incident, it’s the latest incident to increase tensions and uncertainty in the region, where oil tankers have been attacked or threatened.

About 20% of all oil traded worldwide passes through the Persian Gulf, so investors are aware of the potential for disruptions to ship traffic.

The U.S. benchmark for crude oil advanced 71 cents, or 1.3%, to $56.01 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Brent, the international oil standard, picked up 98 cents, or 1.6%, to $62.91 per barrel.

Obviously, the price of on-highway diesel is an outgrowth of the price of oil.

Diesel has gone down seven of the last eight weeks.

After six weeks of declines that totaled 13 cents, the price went up 1.3 cents a gallon for the week ending July 8 but dropped four tenths of a penny last week.

Stock markets were mixed, with Britain’s FTSE 100 shedding 0.1% to 7,484 and the CAC 40 in Paris falling by the same rate to 5,543. In Germany, the DAX rose less than 0.1% to 12,236. Wall Street looked set for small gains, with the future for the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 0.2% and the future for the S&P 500 adding 0.1%.

Reports that Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer spoke with their Chinese counterparts as planned, with more talks to come, helped ease some concerns over the deepening trade war between Washington and Beijing.

The standoff over China’s longstanding trade surpluses and its policies aimed at building up advanced high-tech industries has added to concerns over slowing demand and weaker Chinese growth.

Expectations that the U.S. Federal Reserve will move quickly to cut interest rates have also helped buoy sentiment recently.

Comments by the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, John Williams, suggesting central banks need to “take swift action” when conditions turn adverse, have whetting investors’ appetites for buying, analysts said.

“Investors are highly sensitive to dovish comments from Fed presidents these days, as they are trying to figure out whether the Fed would lower its interest rates by 50 basis points by the end of this month,” Ipek Ozkardeskaya of London Capital Group said in a report.

“Given that a 50-basis-point cut would trigger a further rally in global equities, any remark of dovish nature translates immediately into higher asset prices,” she said.

In Asian trading, Japan’s Nikkei 225 index jumped 2% to 21,466.99 while Hong Kong’s Hang Seng climbed 1.1% to 28,765.40. The Shanghai Composite index rose 0.8% to 2,924.20, while in South Korea, the Kospi added 1.4% to 2,094.36. India’s Sensex slipped 1.3% to 38,390.88. Shares rose in Taiwan and Southeast Asia.

Investors are looking ahead to corporate earnings.

So far, in the U.S. the results have been mixed, though only about 13% of S&P 500 companies have reported, according to FactSet. Analysts expect profits to fall 2.4% overall by the time all reports are tallied.

In currencies, the dollar rose to 107.60 Japanese yen from 107.30 yen on Thursday. The euro weakened to $1.1239 from $1.1279.

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ACT Research: Industry currently astride Class 8 demand inflection

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This chart shows the Class 8 North American build out backlog and the backlog to build ratio. (Courtesy: ACT RESEARCH)

COLUMBUS, Ind. – According to ACT Research’s (ACT) latest State of the Industry: Classes 5-8 Report, June’s Class 8 orders broke the string of falling order volumes with the opening of 2020 order books, garnering a 19% rebound.

While better orders slowed the rapid backlog decline, the situation is temporary, as coming months represent the seasonally weakest order period of the year, suggesting rapid backlog declines should continue in the near-term, according to Kenny Vieth, ACT Research president and senior analyst.

“The industry is currently astride the Class 8 demand inflection,” Vieth said. “On one side of the ledger, weak freight volumes and rates will increasingly pressure carrier profits, thereby moderating demand for new equipment. On the other, significant new capacity additions and steadily increasing inventory volumes suggest current build rates are unsustainable.”

Vieth said medium duty metrics remained in-line with expectations again in June, with most metrics close to their prevailing trends, if displaying some fraying at the edges.”

ACT Research is a publisher of commercial vehicle truck, trailer, and bus industry data, market analysis and forecasting services for the North American and China markets. ACT’s analytical services are used by all major North American truck and trailer manufacturers and their suppliers, as well as banking and investment companies.

More information can be found at www.actresearch.net.

 

 

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