Today’s lanes to watch: Tuesday, February 1, 2022
Takeaways for today's lanes:
Another major winter storm will impact the Dallas to St. Louis lane.
Capacity loosens from LA to Atlanta for both dry van and rail intermodal.
Spot rates on the Augusta, ME to Allentown lane peak due to the weekend blizzard.
Dallas to St. Louis – New winter weather system threatens nation’s midsection.
SONAR Tickers: OTRI.DAL, OTRI.DALSTL, OTRI.STL
Dallas’ outbound rejection rate has increased from 13.5% to 14.9% over the past week, but the overriding trend continues to be lower.
Rejection rates to St. Louis have also bounced off their lowest point in nearly a year and are consistently above the market average. Spot rates are slightly lower to start the week at $2.68 per mile compared with $2.76 last Monday.
St. Louis’ outbound rejection rates have fallen from 30% to 25.6% over the past week, but are trending higher since early November.
What does this mean for you?
Brokers: Consider $2.68 a solid rate in this lane as a significant winter storm is forecast to cover this route with ice and snow by mid-week. Do not waste time trying to negotiate lower as carriers will undoubtedly see the updated forecasts and make adjustments to their routes and prices.
Carriers: Make sure you plan for the weather system to hit along this route. It is forecast to drop ice and snow. The market has not recognized this system yet, but avoiding this area while the storm hits will improve utilization. Accept more loads out of the St. Louis market today and tomorrow to avoid service delays. Ideal loads would be moving south and east before Thursday to avoid the potential of encountering ice in areas north and west of the Mississippi River.
Shippers: Push loads today if possible to avoid potential service delays mid-week. Rejection rates were starting to climb, but had not impacted the spot market as of Monday morning. Increase lead times into next week, when you can to avoid transactional market premiums and service delays.
Los Angeles to Atlanta – Capacity shows signs of loosening for both dry van and rail intermodal.
SONAR Tickers: CSTM.LAX, VOTRI.LAX, VOTRI.USA
Dry van carriers are rejecting 9% of outbound LA loads, the lowest rate since the first half of 2020.
Brokers are paying an average of $3.36/mile, including fuel, for dry van capacity in the spot market in the lane, down 7.4% from the first week of the year.
Van tender volumes for loads leaving LA remain significantly below December levels (343 index points in VOTVI compared with 375 in late December), but have risen in the past week, which suggests that the LA outbound tender rejection rate may not go much lower.
What does this mean for you?
Brokers: Lower your bids for dry van capacity from where they were for most of January to reflect spot rates that have declined in recent weeks. When negotiating with carriers, cite the recent decline in import volumes at the ports of LA and Long Beach. The decline has been driven by congestion, equipment and labor shortages and is why the LA freight markets have loosened.
Carriers: Making the long trip to Atlanta will leave carriers in a balanced market. The Atlanta Van Headhaul Index is 13, which is a decline from 50 in mid-January as inbound Atlanta volume has picked up faster than outbound Atlanta volume. Van carriers are rejecting 14.1% of outbound Atlanta loads (compared to the national average of 19.3%), which indicates that Atlanta is not currently as tight as most freight markets.
Shippers: Tender lead times suggest that most other shippers are relatively unconcerned with securing long-haul capacity outbound from LA (1.86 days for longhaul outbound LA loads compared with the 2.38-day national average). Shippers moving loads that are less time-sensitive may want to consider rail intermodal; the latest door-to-door intermodal spot rate of $2.25/mile in the lane is well below highway spot rates
Augusta, ME to Allentown – Spot rates peak amid disruption caused by the weekend blizzard.
FreightWaves TRAC Market Dashboard – Augusta, ME to Allentown
Spot rates peaked at $4.20 per mile, up 25% from early January lows of $3.35 per mile on January 9.
Outbound tender rejections increased to nearly 60% from last week (from 32.82% on January 24 to 61.74% on January 31).
Outbound tender rejections from the Allentown market are at 20.62%, indicating there are capacity challenges.
What does this mean for you?
Brokers: Winter weather disruption presents greater margins for those with extensive carrier density in this lane. Expect continued volatility for loads coming out of the upper Northeast due to impacts from weather systems disrupting outbound tenders and carrier behavior. Create a margin buffer for any ad hoc opportunities and communicate frequently with customers regarding capacity challenges.
Carriers: Record tender rejections and spot market rates indicate all carriers in the region are experiencing difficulty due to weather concerns. The recent blizzard has placed additional demands on equipment and drivers due to difficulty operating in a severe winter weather environment. Focus on safety and communicate weather delays immediately to customers and brokers, giving them the opportunity to adjust pick up and delivery windows (and to remember your customer service).
Shippers: Expect facility disruptions from winter weather closures that may impact tender lead times and volume levels. Sending out load tenders further in advance and improving existing carrier routing guides are proactive steps to deal with winter weather volatility. Prioritize shipments by day of the week or adjust schedules in the event weather conditions worsen.