U.S. westbound intermodal rates increased for a second consecutive week, albeit minimally, as the overall U.S. index slipped, according to data on all-inclusive 53-foot door-to-door spot pricing quoted by railroads and provided by the 3PL IDS. The overall U.S. index edged down 0.4 percent or $9 to $2,007.50, due mostly to a steep decline in northbound lanes in the week of July 1.
“There were some spikes in a few of the lanes that were offset by a number of lane decreases. The spikes were more of an individual market equipment balance issue and not an overall indication of what all markets are experiencing. We expect to see the large spikes readjust next week after the shortened holiday week,” IDS Executive Vice President Rick LaGore said.
The top 12 and top 18 combined lanes, which include the big-city lanes of Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Dallas, Atlanta and Seattle, experienced significantly smaller declines this week. The top 18 index dropped only $2 to $1,938, while the top 12 remained nearly unchanged, only slipping 42 cents, to remain at $2,109.
East-west rates increased 0.4 percent or $7 to $1,814 in the week of July 1, at a decelerated pace from last week’s increase of 2.4 percent. This put the current price 2 percent above the rate seen in the first week of 2013. The majority of the indexed east-west lanes saw slight declines of $20 or less this week. New Jersey-Los Angeles pulled up the index, with a 7.2 percent or $135 jump to $2,020.
West-east spot rates declined after three straight weeks on the rise, slipping 0.5 percent or $12, putting the rate at $2,356. The current rate is 6 percent lower than at the beginning of the year. Most individual trade lanes saw decreases in this direction. Los Angeles-Denver saw the largest drop, falling 6.4 percent or $180 to reach $2,625. A few lanes had marginal increases, the highest of these being the Los Angeles-Chicago lane, which was up 3.7 percent or $30 to $2,285.
South-north lanes experienced the steepest decline this week; the index was down 2.4 percent or $43 to $1,747, 0.2 percent below the level of the first week of 2013. It had previously had two straight weeks of week-to-week increases. The performance of individual northbound trade lanes varied. Rates saw a mixture of mostly small decreases with a few increases. The highest increase was in the Atlanta-Chicago lane, which rose 3.7 percent or $30 to $850. However, a steep decline of 11.5 percent or $285 from Dallas to New Jersey, dropping the rate to $2,200, pulled down the whole directional index.
North-south rates inched up, rising 0.6 percent or $11 to $1,884; that directional index was the only one to experience a decline last week. The current index is 5.4 percent below the rate at the beginning of 2013. Rates in north-south lanes varied: A few lanes declined by 1 percent or less, some others remained flat, and some increased. The largest increase was in New Jersey-Dallas, which jumped 6 percent or $110 to $1,910.
This week diesel prices fell for a sixth straight week, sliding another 2 cents. Prices fell across all U.S. regions.