Spurred by stronger industrial production, consumer spending and housing activity, truckload rates rose 5.2 percent on average in June from a year ago, the fourth straight month of year-over-year pricing growth above 5 percent on the Cass Truckload Linehaul Index.
Intermodal rail pricing was up 3.8 percent year-over-year in June, its strongest gain this year, though rates fell 4.9 percent from May, according to the Cass Intermodal Pricing Index. That reflects both the increase in freight demand and railroad difficulty improving service.
Intermodal rates may regain traction as truckload demand — which was high in the second quarter, as seen in the earnings of Werner Enterprises and Marten Transport — meets hard limits on the expansion of truckload capacity, both in terms of drivers and equipment.
On U.S. highways, “as demand continues to increase while capacity exits the marketplace, this year’s procurement events and contract negotiations have not, in general, been ending favorably for shippers,” a situation reflected in the truckload index, Cass Information Systems said.
The index, which increased between 0.9 percent and 2.9 percent from last October through February on an annualized basis, jumped 6 percent year-over-year in March and rose 5.7 percent in April and 5.8 percent in May. Month-to-month, the index rose 0.4 percent in June.
The Cass indices are based on data from freight bills submitted by the freight payment company’s clients, which totalled more than $23 billion in 2013, the company said.