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Intermodal & Truckload Spot Rates Marching Toward Record Highs

by Rick LaGore on 2018-06-13 18:01:43

tough intermodal market aheadIntermodal

Domestic intermodal spot rates are:

  • Up 1.2% from prior week.
  • Up 2.7% from 90 days ago.
  • Up 38.0% from prior year.

While the week-over-week rate increase was moderate, tough market ahead as capacity is tightening well beyond what is typical for this time of year.  Demand has forced some markets to be called out as "constrained markets" much earlier than previous years, which means box surcharges will be in place when shippers go beyond their base commitment volume.  The result is intermodal 53' spot rates will continue their march towards record highs and contract intermodal shippers will need to plan weekly shipment requirements accordingly or pay the surcharges.

Truckload capacity and rates are in a similar situation and will be a challenge all on its own.  This week DAT reported a 4.6% increase per mile over last week, with the current national dry van spot rate of $2.29 a mile.  The dry van average spot rate is up 28% over year.  DAT said the reason for the price increase is truckload capacity was already a challenge and the Roaadcheck blitz was even more pronounced than prior year.   

The expectation is truck and 53' domestic spot rate year-over-year percentage change will drift together over the third quarter, with intermodal spot rates trending down to meet rising truck spot rates.  The reason for this is intermodal had some catching up against truckload rates.  Also, comparables will be tougher to overcome starting mid-July because the spot rate market began their climb in the last week of July 2017. 

Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported North American weekly intermodal volume was up 11.2% compared to prior week, while cumulative year-over-year volume is 5.5%

TOFC growth continues to outpace container growth with 16.1% year-over-year growth versus 4.7% COFC growth, which is an indicator that there is not enough containers to meet current demand.  

Diesel Fuel Comments: 

The EIA reported average diesel fuel price of $3.266 per gallon this week, which is a $0.019 decrease from the prior week. 

The diesel price per gallon is up $0.742 or 29.4% higher from the same period last year.    

Oil prices moved up this week with WTI and Brent trading today in the range of $66.65 and $76.50, respectively.  Political instability remains in the headlines, but production and demand are certainly contributing factors in oil prices.  

The EIA for diesel and oil prices decreased its projection of the diesel fuel average for the year to be $3.11 in 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
 Intermodal & Diesel Prices-53

 Intermodal & Diesel Compare to Baseline-27

 Intermodal & Diesel Yr-over-Yr Comparison-53

Intermodal & Diesel Yr-over-Yr Percentage Comparison-14 

Intermodal & Diesel Qtr-over-Qtr Comparison-51

For more on 53' domestic intermodaltruckload and managed transportation services, please sign-up for our weekly blogs and visit the InTek Freight and Logistics website.

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