TransCore reports mixed sequential and annual spot market data for March 2012

TransCore’s DAT North American Freight Index, which reflects spot market freight availability on its network of load boards in the United States and Canada, posted a 40 percent gain in March over February and was down 6.1 percent annually compared to March 2011.

By ·

Spot market conditions for the trucking sector were mixed in March, according to data released by TransCore this week.

TransCore’s DAT North American Freight Index, which reflects spot market freight availability on its network of load boards in the United States and Canada, posted a 40 percent gain in March over February and was down 6.1 percent annually compared to March 2011, which TransCore said was a record month in which the spot market saw record volumes.

March truckload freight rates saw gains for all spot market categories compared to February, according to TransCore. Dry van, flatbed, and reefer rates increased 3.2 percent, 1.2 percent, and 0.7 percent, respectively. And on an annual basis spot market dry van rates dipped 1.5 percent compared to March 2011, with flat bed and reefer rates flat.

The sequential increases in TransCore’s spot market data match up well with recent data from the Cass Freight Index, which found that freight expenditures were up 1.0 percent compared to February and 4.3 percent annually.

The Cass report noted that “[r]ates on the spot market rose throughout most of March in response to increasing demand and tightening capacity,” which appears to be a common theme in the trucking sector since carriers have regained pricing power since the end of the Great Recession.

And as LM has reported, shippers and carriers alike have said that the spot market is still demanding top dollar rates, as carriers are reluctant to add capacity at a time when the economic recovery appears tenuous, retail sales are flat, unemployment is still high, and gas prices remain higher than they were a year ago at this time, although the gap has been closing in recent weeks.

Robert W. Baird & Co. analyst Benjamin Hartford noted in a research note that spot market trends tend to moderate on a seasonal basis, adding that supply and demand dynamics remain relatively balanced into early 2012.

“We expect supply/demand dynamics to remain tight consistent with current expectations for slow demand growth and limited incremental capacity deployment,” wrote Hartford.

Lana Batts, a partner at Transport Capital Partners, recently told LM that when the recession was still intact the freight brokerages operating on the spot market suffered because there was far less available freight and carriers were going wherever they could to get freight. But when the recession was over in February 2011, she said carriers felt they had all the freight and customers they needed and felt they did not need to go back to brokerages.

“Now, they are going back to brokerages because there is a shortage of equipment and they are getting better spot market rates than they are getting out of their contract rates,” she said. “Brokerages tend to do well when there is an imbalance. That imbalance is related to there not being enough freight or not enough trucks.”

The 2009 imbalance was brought on by a lack of freight, due to the recession, whereas the issue less than three years later—through February 2012—has to do with a lack of trucks.


About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

Subscribe to Logistics Management Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Article Topics

spot market · TransCore · Trucking · All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
Private Fleet vs. Dedicated: Which one is right for you?
Having the right fleet for your business can give you an advantage over the competition and lower transportation costs.
Download Today!
From the April 2017 Issue
While adoption rates have remained relatively flat, yard management systems (YMS) are helping logistics operations turn that important space between the loading dock and the gate into a vital link in the supply chain.
Information Management: Wearables come in for a refit
2017 Air Cargo Roundtable: Positive Outlook Driven by New Demand
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Maximize Your LTL Driver Adherence with Real-time Feedback
This webinar shows how companies are using real-time performance data to optimize the scheduling of their city fleets, as well as the routing of their standard, accelerated and time-critical shipments.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
2017 Salary Survey: Fresh Voices Express Optimism
Our “33rd Annual Salary Survey” reflects more diversity entering the logistics management...
LM Exclusive: Major Modes Join E-commerce Mix
While last mile carriers receive much of the attention, the traditional modal heavyweights are in...

ASEAN Logistics: Building Collectively
While most of the world withdraws inward, Southeast Asia is practicing effective cooperation between...
2017 Rate Outlook: Will the pieces fall into place?
Trade and transport analysts see a turnaround in last year’s negative market outlook, but as...