Trending Transportation Updates: April 2021

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Freight volumes are smoking hot, so is demand for containers

Freight spend spiked with another step higher in volumes, according to a statement released by Cass Information Systems. The Cass Freight Index published cycle highs with the spends subindex displaying a new record with the proxy for freight payments was 27.5% higher year-over-year and 7.9% higher than February. “Strong momentum continued in freight rate trends, with this month nearly off the chart, and we sense an axis adjustment on the way. This acceleration suggests Q2 y/y comparisons will be in the 40%-50% range, compared to the shutdown,” - explained the report’s author, ACT Research’s Tim Denoyer.  

Container shipping rates also remain smoking hot, and the demand for containers keeps growing. For example, Hapag-Lloyd has ordered 150,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs) in an effort to combat slow turn times. A nearly $550 million purchase represents one of the German ocean carrier’s largest container orders ever. Read more here.  

DOT assigns $1 billion in the latest round of infrastructure allotments

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is assigning $1 billion in the most recent round of a grant program for freight projects that started in 2009. The DOT placed a Notice of Funding Opportunity to apply for money through the Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) grants, a renaming of what was previously known as “BUILD” grants under the Trump administration and “TIGER” grants under the Obama administration. The Biden administration aims to prioritize projects that address racial inequity, climate change, and create stable jobs with good salaries. Read more here.  

Eight people killed in a recent FedEx warehouse shooting

Eight people were reportedly shot on the night of April, 15th at the FedEx Ground-Plainfield Operations Center by an armed man who ultimately took his own life. The gunman was identified as 19-year-old Brandon Scott Hole, a former FedEx facility employee. According to police, five more people were hospitalized, including one with critical injuries, while two others were injured and released at the accident place.  

FedEx issued an official reaction to the incident: “We are deeply shocked and saddened by the loss of our team members following the tragic shooting at our FedEx Ground facility in Indianapolis. Our most heartfelt sympathies are with all those affected by this senseless act of violence. The safety of our team members is our top priority, and we are fully cooperating with investigating authorities.”

Read more here.  

PLS Market View Report

The PLS Market View is a monthly report presenting insights from research and key market indicators as to the current conditions of the transportation and logistics industry. In this report you will find valuable insights from the following market indicators: the Cass Truckload Linehaul Index, the U.S. Energy Information Administration's Short-Term Energy Outlook, DAT's Trendline Report, and two surveys from Morgan Stanley's Equity Research division.

Freight Truckload Index: "Our TLFI increased seq. and outperformed vs. seasonality. While demand did underperform this week, supply's outperformance more than offset that, causing our index to return to outperformance vs. seasonality."

Truckload Sentiment Survey: "Sentiment saw some improvement but ultimately continued to return mostly red arrows. Current and 3-month forward demand sentiment both declined sequentially but current outperformed seasonality while 3-month forward saw underperformance. Current supply sentiment increased sequentially and outperformed vs. seasonality (a reversal from last update) while 3-month forward saw a decrease sequentially and underperformance seasonality (a reversal from last update)."

COVID-19 Sentiment Survey: "The 23rd edition of our bi-weekly survey of ~400 transportation carriers, shippers and brokers showed improvement in COVID impacts. Overall, this update showed improvement in the impacts from COVID as respondents remain in a wait-and-see period as they expect a possible rise in cases post the holidays and wonder what a vaccinated world could mean for the freight sector."

Download these reports below.

PLS Market View Report
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