Intermodal Spot Rates Holding at Record Highs
The intermodal spot rate index had a minor increase this week. Of the 115 lanes tracked in the weighted average index, 11.4% increased, 43.0% decreased and 45.6% went unchanged. The increases were primarily in lanes associated with inbound NJ freight.
In total, domestic intermodal spot rates were:
- Up 0.5% from prior week.
- Up 9.9% from 90 days ago.
- Up 46.2% from prior year.
The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported North American reported weekly intermodal volume was up 4.7% compared to the same week in 2017, while cumulative year-over-year volume is up 5.6%. TOFC growth continues to outpace COFC year-over-year growth. TOFC is up 16.4%, while COFC is up 4.8%
We believe the year-over-year spot rate percentage increases will gradually decline over the coming months, as the comparables to 2018 will be tougher to overcome. We expect the year-over-year percentage increase to be in the low 30% range by the end of August; mid 20% range for September and high teens for October. The one caveat to this forecast progression is weather related events. Capacity is stretched far thinner than it was in 2018, which would make for greater repercussions to capacity and rates than experienced in the latter part of 2018.
Do not lose sight over the reason for tracking the spot rate. While rates are at historical highs, the importance of tracking spot rates is to gain insight into the direction of capacity, which give shippers insight into planning required to maintain the highest performance levels. So, remember the higher the rate ... the tighter the capacity and the more contingency planning required.
Diesel Fuel Comments:
The EIA reported average diesel fuel price of $3.220 per gallon this week, which is a $0.019 decrease.
The diesel price per gallon is up $0.713 or 28.4% higher from the same period last year.
Oil prices continues to run below $70 a barrel this week, although appears to be headed back up above $70 for next week. WTI and Brent are trading today in the range of $69.60 and $74.15, respectively. Oil production and infrastructure companies have been reporting a ramp up in oil production capital spending to meet demand during their earning calls these past two weeks, so there does appear upward price pressure is on the horizon.
The EIA for diesel and oil prices current projection is diesel will average $3.14 a gallon for calendar year 2018.
The full spreadsheet of the historical weekly price moves of diesel full can be found at https://www.eia.gov/petroleum/gasdiesel/.
Graphs listed below include:
- 53' Domestic Intermodal Price Index & Diesel Fuel Prices
- Variance to January 1, 2013 Baseline
- Rolling 52 Year-over-Year Comparison - 53' Domestic Intermodal and Diesel Fuel Prices
- Rolling 52 Year-over-Year % Change - 53' Domestic Intermodal and Diesel Fuel Prices
- 53' Domestic Intermodal and Diesel Prices Quarter-Over-Quarter Comparison
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