National average spot rates inclusive of fuel rose 4 cents last week (1.5%) to $2.75 per mile. This was a positive development as it was the first move upward in five weeks. Spot rates are higher by 34.1% year-over-year. Given the stabilization in tender rejections over the past few weeks, spot rates are now inching up.
Contracted tenders fell 0.8% week-over-week, continuing a slow and modest down drift dating back to early January. Contract tenders are roughly flat for the last three weeks (and down vs. the peak on Jan 10). Contract volume on a tender rejection-adjusted basis is outpacing 2020 levels by 19% (consistent with last week).
Relative capacity loosened by just 18 basis points (bps) week-over-week to 21.67%, which indicates the fall in tenders was mostly driven by falling load volumes. Tender rejections have settled in this 21-22% range for a month after falling about 6 percentage points off of their December high of 28%.
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 5.3% year-over-year last week and continues to have nice momentum despite waning stimulus influence.
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