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Intermodal Spot Rates Hold Steady at All-Time Highs

by Rick LaGore on 2018-08-16 13:07:56

The intermodal spot rate index increased 0.5% over prior week.  Of the 115 lanes tracked in the weighted average index, 16.7% increased, 6.1% decreased and 77.2% went unchanged.  The increases came primarily from outbound Seattle lanes.  

intermodal train picTrucks on the road

For the week of August 13, 2018, domestic intermodal spot rates were:

  • Up 0.5% from prior week.
  • Up 7.1% from 90 days ago.
  • Up 49.0% from prior year.

The Association of American Railroads (AAR) reported North American weekly intermodal volume was up 2.1% compared to the same week in 2017, while cumulative year-over-year volume is 5.4%.  TOFC growth continues to outpace container growth with 16.2% year-over-year growth versus 4.6% COFC growth.

The national dry van spot rate, reported by DAT, a national average of $2.18 a mile.  This is a 2.7% decrease from the prior week and 29% higher over prior year. 

While the DAT continues to report declining spot rates, keep in mind truckload rates remain at all-time highs and this is a seasonal trend that will turn over the course of August.  

Diesel Fuel Comments: 

Moving onto the fuel side of the intermodal pricing equation, the EIA reported average diesel fuel price of $3.217 per gallon this week, which is a $0.006 decrease.

The diesel price per gallon is up $0.619 or 23.8% higher from the same period last year.    

Oil prices are down from last week, with WTI and Brent trading today in the range of $65.40 and $71.20, respectively.  There are tremendous cross currents of stories within the oil market making it difficult to do a read through on the overall direction.  The stories range from the strong dollar, to politics, to demand, to supply and to tariff disagreements slowing down global growth.  Unfortunately, for now the best predictor is today's oil price, so the forecast is more a "now-cast".

The EIA for diesel and oil prices current projection is diesel will average $3.15 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

Intermodal Spot Rate and Diesel Fuel-5

Baseline Analysis - Intermodal Spot Rate and Diesel Fuel-5

Intermodal Spot Rate and Diesel Fuel Yr-over-Yr Comparison-5

Intermodal Spot Rate and Diesel Fuel Yr-over-Yr Percentage-5

 Intermodal Spot Rate and Diesel Fuel Qtr-over-Qtr Comparison-5

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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