A new wave of trucking capacity tightness started on the West Coast and spread into inland markets. Outbound tender rejections in Los Angeles, Dallas and Chicago have all risen, particularly on lanes with backhaul (or unattractive) destinations. That matters because we’ve shown before that in a trucking markets rally, rates tend to move first where carriers already have pricing power, only gradually inflating on lanes headed into attractive headhaul markets.The national average dry van truckload spot rate ticked up just barely to $2.85/mile including fuel, but we expect higher rates next week to reflect the currently rising tender rejection rates. We don’t want to make too much of this week’s data; it’s just a few points in one week of improving conditions and is not setting an upward trend. But we also don’t want to understate the significance of the data we do see — a concerted move upward in tender rejections and spot rates across multiple major markets exactly when markets should be moving at the beginning of peak retail season.For those reasons, we’re calling “game on” and telling clients that trucking markets — and intermodal too — deserve close scrutiny over the next two months as demand seems likely to further outstrip supply.
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John Paul conducts research on multimodal freight markets and holds a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Michigan. Prior to building a research team at FreightWaves, JP spent two years on the editorial side covering trucking markets, freight brokerage, and M&A.