Rising US Truck & Intermodal Rates In March,Data Indicates Strong 2018

Data released earlier this month shows truckload rates and volumes rose through March, with pricing leaping the first week of April, along with spot market load volumes.

The Cass Truckload Linehaul Index rose 7.2 percent year over year in March, its biggest gain since January 2015, the peak of the last major escalation in truck rates. The Cass Intermodal Pricing Index hit an all-time high in March, climbing 5.8 percent year over year, the third month of annualized increases above 5 percent. Tight truckload capacity and higher diesel prices are creating pricing power for domestic intermodal.

On top of this, there is no indication the US economy or transportation pricing is about to slip into slower gear. Higher truckload rates and freight volumes in March and early April indicates that higher retail sales ahead, as spring retail sales of outdoor furniture, tools, and other goods begin. The Conference Board's Consumer Confidence Index did slip slightly in March from an 18-year high in February. February also saw new orders for manufactured goods increase 1.2 percent and wholesale inventories jump 1.1 percent, according to the US Census Bureau.

The overall picture is one of a stronger US economy with more freight in the pipeline, and, for shippers, higher spot market and contract transportation rates in the months ahead. Source: Journal of Commerce