Supply Chain News / Economic Development / Ground

Latest Transportation Indexes Released

February 13, 2013

As one of the nation’s largest payer of freight bills, Cass information Systems Inc. manages more than $20 billion annually in freight spend. This enables Cass to compile logistics data that serves as an indicator of transportation industry trends. The following indexes are closely followed by economists, analysts, shippers and carriers for their accuracy and insights.

The Cass Truckload Linehaul Index is a measure of fluctuations in U.S. domestic baseline truckload costs. It isolates the linehaul component of full truckload costs from other components (e.g. fuel and accessorials).

Truckload linehaul rates rose for the fourth straight month in January, increasing 0.9 percent from December. Annually, rates are up 4.1 percent from last January. Superstorm Sandy may have much to do with the larger-than-normal January increase. Avondale Partners recently stated, “We believe that the after effects of Hurricane Sandy and the resulting dislocation of freight markets in the Northeast continue to inflate the index, with the impact relatively consistent with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina (rates increased sequentially at ~1 percent greater than normal for the event month and three months after Katrina).”

The Cass Intermodal Linehaul Index measures changes in U.S. domestic intermodal rates. Like the truckload index, it also measures linehaul rates only, independent of fuel and accessorials.

Intermodal linehaul rates in January were 7.8 percent higher than January of last year. Month to month, costs rose 2.7 percent from December – a big jump compared to the average December-to-January change of .2 percent.

While the rise in truckload rates may have been event-driven (Sandy), the increase in intermodal rates is likely due to near-record shipment volumes. Demand for intermodal is expected to continue to grow in 2013, possibly outpacing the growth in supply.

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