Dry van report: Shipments plunge, but the worst could be over

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The shipments component of the Cass Freight Index increased by 7.3% m/m in February, impacted by weather impacts on freight markets and a Leap Day, the main factor behind the 2.0% m/m increase in seasonally adjusted (SA) terms. Compared to last year, the index was 4.5% lower, and the smallest decline in ten months, according to Tim Denoyer from ACT Research.

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Denoyer noted, “February brought more encouraging signs that a freight recovery is beginning. Shipment volumes were slightly ahead of m/m seasonal expectations, and while they remained lower than last year, the gap continues to close. With normal seasonality, shipments will be down just -1% y/y in March and turn positive y/y in May. It’s been over two years since the first y/y decline of this freight recession, and with destocking playing out and goods consumption rising, we see this improvement as an encouraging sign that a recovery is beginning.”

Market watch

All rates cited below exclude fuel surcharges unless otherwise noted.

Even though the volume of outbound loads in Texas decreased by 5% last week, linehaul rates increased by $0.04/mile to a state average of $1.56/mile, making it the fifth week of successive gains. The Dallas/Ft Worth metroplex reported solid gains, with spot rates up 2% week-over-week (w/w) to $1.43/mile. Laredo, the largest commercial truck crossing zone for loads from Mexico, reported a 6% w/w decrease in loads moved while available capacity tightened with spot rates increasing by $0.05/mile to $1.78/mile.

In California, state average rates increased by $0.04/mile to $1.86/mile for outbound loads. Linehaul rates in the state have risen for the past four weeks and are now 8% higher than last year. On the high-volume lane east to Phoenix, Los Angeles dry van carriers were paid an average of $2.55/mile following last week’s $0.05/mile increase on an 11% lower volume of loads moved. 

Load-to-Truck Ratio

Dry van load post volume decreased by 2% last week but was up 15% month-over-month (m/m) and 3% year-over-year (y/y). Available capacity decreased following last week’s 4% drop in equipment posts, increasing the load-to-truck ratio by 2% to 3.28. 

Linehaul spot rates

After being flat for the past month, dry van linehaul rates increased by $0.01/mile, the first weekly gain since mid-January’s national freeze. At $1.59/mile, dry van linehaul rates are $0.10/mile lower than last year. Based on the volume of loads moved DAT’s Top 50 lanes averaged $1.87/mile last week, maintaining the $0.28/mile spread above the national average.

Weekly reports

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