Tender rejection rates cooled somewhat over the past week to just over 25%; spot rates were up 2%; and tendered volumes began normalizing after the holiday. Dry van truckload spot rates from Chicago to Atlanta, the lane we discussed in detail last week, were above the national average for the second week in a row.We believe the trucking markets’ rally still has legs and that rates will go higher into the fourth quarter of 2020; this momentary pause feels like similar soft patches trucking markets hit after the July 4 holiday and in the second week of August. In the Trucking Spot Rates section below, we offer a more detailed discussion of what a peak would look like for different players in trucking markets and why we don’t think we’re quite there yet, even if tender rejections never retake their August highs. Truckload carrier operating ratios should continue to move lower, especially if carriers can move contracted rates up by mid-single digits, and peak gross margins for brokerages will come when enough capacity has entered the industry to push spot rates back down.Continue to keep an eye on containerized imports, trans-Pacific rates and intermodal volumes and service as proxy gauges for demand for truckload transportation.
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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.