National dry van truckload spot rates on Truckstop.com of $2.94 per mile inclusive of fuel sit just 4% below their 2020 high. Meanwhile our new contract rate data (in beta) also shows large upward movement in both dry van and reefer rates as load volumes have taken off and capacity tightened since the COVID-induced market bottom last spring.
Contracted tenders rose 7% week-over-week as drivers got back to work. We expect a major multiweek surge in volumes to ensue beginning this week (despite typical January seasonality).
Relative capacity loosened by ~341 basis points (bps) week-over-week to 24.51%, a two-month low but a temporary seasonal phenomenon that should also reverse in coming weeks as activity resumes.
We believe the recent passage by Congress of further stimulus should drive another sharp resurgence in the demand for goods — and therefore truckload demand — in the coming months before the U.S. population is widely vaccinated. The timing is ideal as consumer demand appeared to be slightly waning over the past month. This backdrop is supportive of continued tight capacity and robust load volumes, as evidenced by the all-time highs seen this past week in trans-Pacific container rates to both the West and East coasts.
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