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Spot market truckload volumes disappoint in May; June called pivotal month

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The chart compares DAT spot market van volume and rates. (Courtesy: DAT SOLUTIONS)

PORTLAND, Ore. — Spot truckload freight volumes failed to meet expectations in May, said DAT Solutions, which operates the largest truckload freight marketplace in North America.

The number of full-truckload van loads moved on the spot market declined 12% in May compared to April, according to the DAT Truckload Volume Index. Van load counts were down 10% compared to May 2018. Van trailers haul approximately 70% of all truckload freight.

“Simply put, May was a disappointment in terms of load counts,” said DAT Senior Industry Analyst Mark Montague. “We’re accustomed to seeing higher volumes of retail goods, fresh produce, construction materials, and other seasonal spot truckload freight moving through supply chains at this time of year.”

Uncertainty over trade agreements and slumping imports from China seemed to dampen truckload demand. Record rainfalls, flooding, and tornadoes also hampered freight movements in many parts of the country.

Agriculture producers saw their supply chains disrupted by the weather, with many harvests ruined or delayed. As a result, refrigerated volumes declined 8.3% month over month and fell 12% year over year.

Flatbed load volume, which includes heavy machinery and construction material, dropped 9.3% month over month and 3.1% year over year.

Spot truckload rates continued to track well below last year’s record levels.

Compared to April, the national average spot van rate was virtually unchanged at $1.80 per mile, including a fuel surcharge. That’s 35 cents below the average for May 2018. The average reefer rate was $2.15 per mile, 1 cent higher than April and 38 cents lower than May 2018. The flatbed rate averaged $2.27 per mile, down 5 cents compared to April and 45 cents lower year over year.

“After a lackluster May, June is shaping up to be a pivotal month for trucking,” Montague said. “We will know soon whether the volumes we expected in May were simply delayed. If so, the pent-up demand could boost seasonal volumes at the close of Q2.”

The DAT Truckload Freight Volume Index is based on load counts and per-mile rates recorded in DAT RateView, with an average of 3 million freight moves per month. Spot market information is based on transactions arranged by third-party logistics (3PL) companies, while contract volumes and rates are arranged between shippers and carriers, with no intermediary.

DAT market trends and data insights are derived from 256 million annual freight matches and a database of $60 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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FTR Trucking Conditions Index for July improved to reading above neutral

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FTR said although some positive trucking conditions index readings are possible over the next year, the outlook is for primarily negative to neutral readings throughout the time frame. (The Trucker file photo)

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index for July improved slightly to a just above neutral reading of 0.28.  Lower diesel prices offset the effects of lower capacity utilization pushing the reading into positive territory for the first time since January. Although some positive readings are possible over the next year, the outlook is for primarily negative to neutral readings throughout the time frame.

Details of the TCI for July are found in the September t issue of FTR’s Trucking Update, published August 30. The “Notes by the Dashboard Light” section issues readers a warning about the possibility for slower growth ahead.

Along with the TCI and “Notes by the Dashboard Light,” the Trucking Update includes data and analysis on load volumes, the capacity environment, rates, costs, and the truck driver situation.

“Although it has become common to hear dire warnings about the state of the trucking industry, the truck freight market as a whole is hardly collapsing,” said Avery Vise, vice president of trucking. “Rapid cooling from last year’s extraordinarily strong market certainly has left many weak carriers exposed, but freight volume and rates are holding up reasonably well – certainly if viewed in a longer-term context. Still, most of the near-term risks to our outlook are on the downside.”

The TCI tracks the changes representing five major conditions in the U.S. truck market, including freight volumes, freight rates, fleet capacity, fuel price and financing.

The individual metrics are combined into a single index indicating the industry’s overall health. A positive score represents good, optimistic conditions. Conversely, a negative score represents bad, pessimistic conditions. Readings near zero are consistent with a neutral operating environment, and double-digit readings (up or down) suggest significant operating changes are likely.

In addition to the monthly updates on trucking conditions, FTR offers a weekly Trucking Market Update in the State of Freight Podcast.

The weekly update, hosted by Avery Vise, covers spot market and economic indicators and major industry developments. To listen to recent episodes and download the indicators that are covered, go to www.FTRintel.com/podcast.

To learn more about FTR visit www.FTRintel.com or call 888-988-1699 or email  or email FTR@FTRintel.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Average on-highway gallon of diesel up 1.6 cents, but crude oil up 12.97%

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The average price of a gallon of on-highway diesel for the week ending September 16 was 28.1 cents lower than the comparable week in 2018. (The Trucker file photo)

WASHINGTON — The average on-highway price of a gallon of diesel rose 1.6 cents a gallon to $2.987 for the week ending September 16, according to the Energy Information Administration of the Department of Energy.

It was the first weekly increase since the week ending July 8 when the price went up 1.3 cents a gallon to $3.055.

What, if any, impact did the attack on the Saudi oil facility have on the price this week is hard to determine since the attack occurred only early last Saturday.

“Our team is keeping a close eye on the impact of the Saudi oil fire on the diesel market,” said a spokesperson for Pilot Flying J. “We have already seen the market react, but it’s too early to predict the extent of the impact. Our No. 1 priority remains getting our guests from point A to point B as quickly and conveniently as possible.”

The price of West Texas Intermediate crude rose 12.97% to $61.93 Monday.

All regions of the country increased with the exception of the Central Atlantic States (New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey) where the price dropped nine tenths of a penny to $3.013.

The largest increase was in the West Coast minus California at 3 cents top $3.161. The next largest increase was 2.6 cents in the overall West Coast region (California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon and Washington) and the Rocky Mountain states (Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.

The price for the week ending September 16 was 28.1 cents lower than the comparable week in 2018.

For a complete list of prices by region for the past three weeks, click here.

 

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DOT’s freight transportation index rises to new all-time high in July

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The Freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in for-hire freight shipments by mode of transportation in tons and ton-miles, which are combined into one index. (The Trucker file photo)

WASHINGTON — The Freight Transportation Services Index (TSI), which is based on the amount of freight carried by the for-hire transportation industry, rose 0.9% in July from June, rising to a new all-time high after declining for two consecutive months, the Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics’ (BTS) said Thursday.

From July 2018 to July 2019, the index rose 2.9% compared to a rise of 6.0% from July 2017 to July 2018.

The Freight TSI measures the month-to-month changes in for-hire freight shipments by mode of transportation in tons and ton-miles, which are combined into one index. The index measures the output of the for-hire freight transportation industry and consists of data from for-hire trucking, rail, inland waterways, pipelines and air freight. The TSI is seasonally-adjusted to remove regular seasons from month-to-month comparisons.

The BTS said the Uly increase was broad based with increases in rail carloads, rail intermodal, trucking, pipeline and air freight. There was a small decline in water transportation.

The TSI increase took place against a background of mixed results for other indicators.

The Federal Reserve Board Industrial Production Index declined in July, reflecting decreases in mining and manufacturing and an increase in utilities. Personal income increased by 0.1%, while housing starts declined by 4.0%. The Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing index decreased 0.5 points to 51.2, indicating continued but slowing growth.

The BTS said despite small decreases in both May (-0.1%) and June (-0.3%), the July index was 0.6% over its April level and 0.2% over its previous record high in November 2018.

The record high level was reached even though the index increased in only four of the eight months since November. From a low point in March 2016, the index climbed 12.8% until reaching a new high in May 2018. From that point, the index has exceeded its levels in all months prior to May 2018. The July 2019 index was 46.6% above the April 2009 low during the most recent recession.

For-hire freight shipments in July 2019 (139.0) were 46.6% higher than the low in April 2009 during the recession (94.8). The July 2019 level reached its all-time high.

For-hire freight shipments measured by the index were up 2.1% in July compared to the end of 2018.

For-hire freight shipments are up 15.4% in the five years from July 2014 and are up 41.4% in the 10 years from July 2009.

 

 

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