National average spot rates inclusive of fuel rose 10 cents last week (3.6%) to $2.85 per mile. This was a positive development as it was the second straight weekly increase (following four straight weeks of falling rates). Spot rates are higher by 43.2% year-over-year. Given the stabilization and move up in tender rejections over the past few weeks, spot rates are trending up.
Contracted tenders fell 2.5% week-over-week, continuing a slow and modest down drift dating back to early January. It is important to note though that prior to Presidents Day, volumes were only down 0.5% and winter weather could represent another temporary drag. Contract volume on a tender rejection-adjusted basis is outpacing 2020 levels by 15% (down from 19% last week).
Relative capacity tightened by 98 basis points (bps) week-over-week to 22.65%, which indicates the fall in tenders was mostly driven by falling load volumes.
The backdrop for truckload (at least through 1H 2021) remains healthy with a strong consumer, further stimulus forthcoming and a recovering industrial economy. The back half of 2021 is much more uncertain.
Consumer spending, according to Bank of America card spending data, was up a strong 9.7% year-over-year last week.
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