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Spot rates rise as weather, freight availability improve

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Flatbed trends have been virtually unchanged the past three months and the forecast is for May to follow suit. (Courtesy: DAT SOLUTIONS)

PORTLAND, Ore. — Better weather combined with a 4.2% increase in the number of available loads pushed spot truckload freight rates higher during the week ending May 5, said DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards.

The number of available trucks, which has steadily increased in recent weeks, rose 1.6%.

Newsal Average Spot Rates Through May 5

  • Van: $1.82/mile, 1 cent above the April average
  • Refrigerated: $2.18/mile, 3 cents higher than April
  • Flatbed: $2.33/mile, 1 cent lower

The price of fuel was $3.17 per gallon as a national average, nearly unchanged from the previous week.

Van trends

Individual lane rates are trending up as rates increased on 53 of the top 100 van lanes last week, the first time in six weeks that more lanes were up than down. The national average van load-to-truck ratio rose from 1.6 to 1.8 last week.

Market to watch: The average outbound spot van rate from Charlotte, North Carolina, increased 3 cents to $1.99/mile as several outbound lanes improved:

  • Charlotte to Buffalo, New York, up 11 cents to $2.24/mile
  • Charlotte to Atlanta, up 5 cents to $2.30/mile
  • Charlotte to Memphis, up 6 cents to $1.57/mile

One caveat: The load-to-truck ratio from Charlotte peaked around April 29 to May 1 and declined through the first week of May. It remains to be seen whether this is an end-of-month surge or the beginning of a sustained upward trend.

Reefer trends

The national average reefer load-to-truck ratio popped up from 2.5 to 2.9 last week, a sign that produce-shipping season in the Southeast is stepping into higher gear.

Market to watch: In Florida, the number of spot reefer loads from Lakeland, Florida, increased 13% and freight paid an average of $2.21/mile, up 49 cents compared to the previous week. Volume from Miami jumped 20% and paid an average of $2.59/mile, a 51-cent increase. Key lanes:

  • Lakeland to Baltimore, up 85 cents to $2.86/mile
  • Lakeland to Charlotte, up 57 cents to $2.62/mile
  • Miami to Boston added 62 cents to $3.09/mile
  • Miami to Baltimore gained 51 cents to $3.05/mile

California has been slower than usual, with freight volumes down nearly 3% compared to the previous week. The wet winter and spring delayed planting in many regions but should deliver strong harvests in the coming weeks, including substantial numbers of cherries and table grapes.

DAT Trendlines is a weekly snapshot of month-to-date national average rates from DAT RateView, which provides real-time reports on spot market and contract rates, as well as historical rate and capacity trends. The RateView database is comprised of more than $60 billion in freight payments. DAT load boards average 1.2 million load posts searched per business day.

For the latest spot market loads and rate information, visit dat.com/trendlines and follow @LoadBoards on Twitter.

 

 

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July trailer sales up slightly, but below last year; used Class 8 sales fall again

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Both ACT Research and FTR reported trailer sales in July as being up slightly over June, but still far below the same month one year ago. (Courtesy: GREAT DANE)

The nation’s two organizations that track and analyze data about the commercial motor vehicle market both note that trailer orders were up in July as compared to June but were still far below when compared with the same month last year.

One of the two organizations reported used Class 8 sales fell for the fourth consecutive month.

ACT Research said preliminary estimate for July 2019 net trailer orders is 9,900 units. Final volume will be available later this month. This preliminary market estimate should be within +/- 3% of the final order tally.

FTR reported preliminary trailer orders for July at 9,000 units, up 61% from dismal June numbers but 68% below July 2018. FTR said trailer orders continue to show weakness during the summer months after experiencing a record run in the second half of last year, noting that van fleets already have their orders in for 2019 and have not started ordering yet for 2020. Although currently, production remains robust at near-record levels, some easing of build rates is expected as backlogs fall significantly to where they were at the start of 2018, FTR said. Trailer orders for the past 12 months now total 324,000 units.

“While net trailer order volume improved significantly from June’s dramatically disappointing results, the industry’s year-over-year performance continued to be extremely weak. While net orders jumped 65% versus an amazingly weak June, they were 66%  below this point last year, a tough comparison to the first month of the record-setting order run-up of last summer and fall,” said Frank Maly, ACT’s director of CV transportation analysis and research. “While some fleets made investment commitments in response to the opening of some 2020 order boards, their overall response was lackluster. A few months ago, there was strong interest to push commitments into next year, but uncertainty over the economy, freight volumes, and capacity has now caused many fleets to move to the sidelines as they re-assess their true needs for either replacement of older equipment or additions to fleet capacity next year.”

On a positive note, Maly said the cancellation pressures of recent months appeared to ease a bit in July. However, any cancels are likely impacting fourth quarter production slots, so there is still some churn in order board occurring before year-end.

“That results in a fairly soft foundation for early next year. Also worth noting is that production continued at a solid pace in July, although OEMs definitely slid back from June’s frantic pace,” he said.

Don Ake, FTR vice president of commercial vehicles, said trailer orders should stay subdued in August but start to revive in September, as fleets determine their needs for next year. The environment remains uncertain, with freight growth slowing and the tariff situation in flux.

“The July order volumes continue to demonstrate a possible return to normalcy in the equipment markets. The low total is representative of a typical slow summer order month, and is very close to the July 2016 number,” he said.

As for the used truck market, Steve Tam, ACT’s vice president of research, said preliminary used truck sales fell 2% month-over-month, the fourth consecutive sequential drop.

Other data released in ACT’s preliminary report included sequential comparisons for July 2019, which showed that average prices fell 4%, while average miles climbed 2%, and average age was up 4%.

“Used truck prices are the hottest topic in the industry right now,” Tam said. “Many dealers are experiencing significant softening in prices, but the erosion is not uniform. Depending on a host of factors, experiences vary and a few factors that impact prices include customer, equipment specifications, location, and vehicle condition.”

ACT’s Classes 3-8 Used Truck Report provides data on the average selling price, miles, and age based on a sample of industry data. In addition, the report provides the average selling price for top-selling Class 8 models for each of the major truck OEMs – Freightliner (Daimler); Kenworth and Peterbilt (Paccar); International (Navistar); and Volvo and Mack (Volvo).

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ACT Research: Key risk to CV market forecasts is China trade wars

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This chart showing the U.S. dollar to Chinese yen (RMB), illustrates why trade wars are neither good, nor easy to win, an ACT Research official said, (Courtesy: ACT RESEARCH)

COLUMBUS, Ind. — According to ACT Research’s (ACT) latest release of the North American Commercial Vehicle OUTLOOK, the key risk to all commercial vehicle market forecasts remains the on-again trade war with China.

“This month’s chart, the U.S. dollar to Chinese yuan (RMB) illustrates why trade wars are neither good, nor easy to win,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst. “As can be seen, after the U.S. fired the latest salvo in the trade war on August 1, the Chinese responded with in-kind tariffs and a 3% currency devaluation — so far. Since the first ‘shots’ of the trade war were fired on March 1, 2018, the RMB has fallen 12% versus the U.S. dollar.

“So, tariffs imposed by the U.S. have been met with in-kind tariffs from China, and the Chinese government has allowed the yuan to devalue, thereby offsetting the U.S. tariff impact, while simultaneously making US goods even more expensive in China.”

Vieth said the bigger risk, especially to emerging economies is that in order to compete with China, they will have to devalue their currencies, making US goods more expensive in more countries and raising the risk of a deeper global downturn.

ACT Research is a publisher of commercial vehicle truck, trailer, and bus industry data, market analysis and forecasting services for the North American and China markets. ACT’s analytical services are used by all major North American truck and trailer manufacturers and their suppliers, as well as banking and investment companies.

More information can be found at www.actresearch.net.

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ACT Research: Heavy duty markets at the edge of the precipice

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This graph by ACT Research shows freight growth will decline in 2020 and 2021 before accelerating in 2022, Class 8 truck productivity will remain in the negative through 2022 but will become less each year. (Courtesy: ACT RESEARCH)

COLUMBUS, Ind.  – According to ACT Research’s latest release of the North American Commercial Vehicle OUTLOOK, current data and anecdotes make a strong case that the heavy-duty vehicle markets are at the edge of the precipice.

“Since the start of this demand up-cycle in late 2017, we have targeted this year’s third quarter as the point at which the industry was likely to see production rollover,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst. “That targeting was largely derived from historical precedent, with historical peak-level build lasting between 13 and 15 months. For the current cycle, we date peak build rates to June 2018, so August represents the 15th month of peak-level production.”

Regarding heavy vehicle demand, Vieth said, “At the heart of our cycle duration prediction, carrier profitability and production peaks always lag the freight cycle, so capacity building always accelerates relative to freight growth at exactly the wrong time, every time.

“Large new inventories and deteriorating freight and rate conditions suggest erring on the side of caution remains the right call, and we are warning those in the industry to be prepared for down weeks starting as early as fourth quarter.”

ACT Research is a publisher of commercial vehicle truck, trailer, and bus industry data, market analysis and forecasting services for the North American and China markets. ACT’s analytical services are used by all major North American truck and trailer manufacturers and their suppliers, as well as banking and investment companies.

More information can be found at www.actresearch.net.

 

 

 

 

 

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