Every month we take a look at the most recent transportation trends to help plan for the future. Discover industry updates for March 2019.
The American Trucking Association’s seasonally adjusted Truck Tonnage Index increased 4.6% year over year in January, moderating from December’s revised 4% growth. While January’s growth rate was the 21st consecutive month of growth, the three-month moving average growth rate is 4.8%.
Spot market dry-van truckload rates in February were down 15% year over year as the market lapped significant year-ago rate increases from the previous year. After 2018, contract rates likely increased 8-11% year over year. It’s predicted that truckload contract rates could be 0-3% year over year next year, while spot market rates could trend lower.
Global Airfreight, Containerized Ocean Traffic
Total U.S. and Canadian container imports dropped 4% year over year in February, as the Chinese New Year holiday timing weighed on growth. It’s predicted that growth in 2019 will likely slow from 2018’s 8% growth rate as tariff-driven pull forward likely artificially boosted third quarter and fourth quarter results from 2018 and has meant elevated inventory levels.
During February and early March, spot market rates from Asia to the U.S. West Coast declined to $1,600, down from November’s peak $2,600 rate. The rate is now flat year over year, but remained above June’s $1,200 average rate, according to the Shanghai Containerized Freight Index. Rates are being supported from falling to prior $1,300 levels during 2017 and early 2018 through capacity reductions.
Airfreight rates in January fell, but remain elevated year over year. Airfreight rates are expected to moderate in 2019 as capacity agreements signed in the first quarter of 2018 expire amidst excess capacity and slowing demand growth trends.
Through early March, railroad volumes were relatively flat. Quarter to date, CSX volumes were flat year over year primarily due to intermodal volume declines as the company reduced service. Norfolk Southern Corp. volume growth has slowed in 2019 from the fourth quarter of 2018’s pace and is relatively flat as less coal, automotive and grain shipments offset increased modest growth in intermodal volumes.
Union Pacific’s growth rate has moderated from the fourth quarter of 2018’s 3% growth rate as strong intermodal volumes are being offset by less coal, grain and automotive shipments.
BNSF’s growth rate fell due to declines in coal, grain and intermodal volumes. Unfavorable weather appears to have affected volumes.
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