This is a weekly series that brings the insights we use to get your shipments from A to B from our carrier sales floor to your home office.

This week Loadsmart’s Capacity Solution Manager, Jimmy Fahey, breaks down what happened last week and what to expect this week in the freight market in less than 60 seconds.

What We Saw Last Week

  • Tender rejections fell after Christmas, in line with previous years, but rejections have stalled and are currently hovering around 23%. We still remain in a tight market, particularly as tender volumes have increased in the same timeframe. We can anticipate rejections bottoming out around the 20% mark, as demand is still high and there is a backlog at the ports.  
  • Last week VOTVI increased to 10,390.87 index points, but reefer outbound tender volumes held steady just under 2,150.00 index points. The markets of Savannah, Memphis, Joplin, Milwaukee, Cleveland, Toledo, LA, and Ontario all saw significantly higher amounts of outbound loads versus inbound trucks, pushing their headhaul scores above 50, which will also apply upward pressure on spot rates out of those markets.
  • As of midday Wed. 91 ships were at the Port of LA 46 at birth, 45 anchored; of those, 56 were container ships. 19 more ships arrived, with equal amounts departing. Ships have filled all anchorage spots in the ports and are now occupying 6 of the 10 contingency spots near Huntington Beach. Port of LA’s forecasting tool, the Signal, indicates imports are expected to rise from 144,000 TEU’s last week, to 158,000 TEU’s this week and will end the month at 183,000 TEU. Liners are not anticipated to cancel sailing during the Chinese New Year, which will not aid the congestion currently being experienced due to strong consumer demand and a labor shortage.
  • Last Thursday we saw first-time jobless claims totaled 965,000 last week. The total was higher than Wall Street estimates of 800,000 and above last week’s totals of 784,000. The total was the highest since the week of Aug. 22, when just over 1 million were filed. 

What To Expect This Week

  • Union Pacific rescinded their record-breaking surcharges to start the week, which saw surcharges as high as $5,000 per container. The railroad has told customers that equipment and rail-owned containers are no longer constrained. This is welcome news to many IMC’s, but also comes as a surprise given continued import volumes are clogging the already congested ports of LA and Long Beach. 
  • President-Elect Joe Biden will be inaugurated on Wednesday and his administration has already unplans for a $1.9 trillion relief package that will include more stimulus payments and other direct aid. The plan will include another $1400 in direct stimulus payments, extending unemployment benefits and eviction protections, and offering more help to small businesses. 
  • The TS Avg. Linehaul finished last week at $3.04/mi. Though rates typically soften between January and February, volumes keep pushing along. Add to that the increased stimulus payments and continuing restrictions, the insatiable appetite for the US consumer will continue along. 
  • DAT reports that the average spot rate has fallen from $2.53 to $2.46 cutting the spread between spot and contract down to $0.07/mi., the narrowest spread since they inverted in August. Contract rates have risen 13% YoY and are closing in on spot rates. Anticipate spot volumes to dwindle; however, spot rates will continue to hold, as volumes remain strong. 
  • LA is still the place to be, as the import volumes are still strong with the next three weeks showing increases of 50, 70, and 160% YoY.

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