Economy Watch

Truckload and less-than-truckload pricing expected to rise more quickly than freight volumes, as carriers seek to counter rising operating costs and shippers look to secure capacity.

Trucking executives plan to invest more capital in trucks and to hire more workers over the next 12 months, a sign of their confidence in the economy and good news for shippers concerned about the availability of truck capacity in the year ahead.

The general slowdown in China’s container exports was supported by the latest manufacturing data that shows weak factory activity being recorded in the mainland for the fourth consecutive month.

Truck tonnage in the U.S. rose 1.1 percent in May after dropping 1.4 percent in April, but large inventories and slow-paced manufacturing growth are limiting freight demand.

In an ominous sign for its export-reliant economy, Japan’s red-hot merchandise trade with the United States lost some steam in May after expanding by more than 20 percent in March and April.

US freight shipments rose for the fourth straight month, sequentially, in May, though year-over-year comparisons are tough, according to the Cass Freight Index. Imports are keeping trailers filled as low fuel prices blunt the rise of shipping costs.

India’s merchandise exports fell for the sixth consecutive month in May, the longest streak of declines since 2009, even as the Narendra Modi-led government rolled out a spate of schemes to stimulate manufacturing output and spur domestic demand.

The industrial real estate market is tight, causing rents and land prices to increase, which will eventually lead to higher costs for users as the market reaches saturation.

When it came to influencing the flow of U.S. maritime container traffic, West Coast longshoremen owned 2014 (and the first two months of 2015). The standoff with waterfront employers crippled West Coast container traffic and sent surges of volume through Canadian and U.S. East and Gulf Coast ports.

The U.S. economy is soft, truck capacity is more readily available, but contract truck rates are headed up, not down as one might expect. That’s because truck capacity is about to get much tighter, driving up truck utilization, transportation economist Noël Perry said.