Less-than-truckload carriers are raising rates 3 to 4 percent, before fuel surcharges, despite “negative economic signals,” according to Stifel Nicolaus.
“Freight in the U.S. is hanging on to growth — not good, not bad, just up a little over this time last year,” the investment research firm said in a note to investors.
For-hire truck tonnage rose 3.2 percent from a year ago in August, though it dropped 0.9 percent from July, according to the American Trucking Associations.
Rate increases show LTL carriers are focused on improving margins damaged during the recession rather than gaining market share, Stifel Nicolaus said.
“Active” LTL capacity remains “relatively in balance,” the research firm said, helping to support carrier rate increases despite a slowing economy.
The firm’s transport analysts forecast a 0 to 3 percent increase in annual LTL freight volume through 2014 and annual LTL rate increases of 1 to 5 percent.