The intermodal volume y/y changes posted by the AAR showed a deceleration in growth on the surface (U.S. intermodal container originations only up 6.8% y/y), but that was mainly due to a difficult comparison to the prior year. From the prior week, U.S. intermodal container originations increased 1.3% and are up 11.3% year-to-date.
Average door-to-door domestic intermodal spot rates, weighted by lane density, were flat with the prior week on a national basis at $1.85/mile but were widely mixed by lane. In the past week, the Class I railroads reduced intermodal spot rates in the eastbound lanes from LA while increasing rates on the eastbound lanes from Oakland and the Pacific Northwest. Even with those changes, most spot shippers should stick to utilizing intermodal in the spot market on westbound backhaul lanes and should expect a tough bid season, with each of the 20 densest lanes showing higher spot rates y/y (typically directionally consistent with contract rates).
While the decline in intermodal spot rates in the major outbound-LA lanes in the past week might indicate that capacity is more available, intermodal tender rejections in Southern California suggest otherwise, and remain elevated at 11.6%.
Speaking of the West Coast, the situation offshore remains extraordinary, with more than 40 container ships at anchor earlier this week, routing being diverted to ports further north and voyages being canceled. For details, we recommend this FreightWaves article.
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