Most of the datapoints that have been flashing bright red for the last few surveys started to plateau/turn a corner in FP61, including inventory levels, transport volume/price expectations etc. However, we are still a long way off normalized levels and it is too early to tell if this is a headfake.
Freight/Macro Highlights: (1) Shippers’ Economic Outlook Ticks Up Again; Comfortably Above LT Averages; (2) Sharp Improvement in Retail Sentiment Again, Stable to Slight Declines Elsewhere;(3) Net Ordering and Net Inventory Remain Close to All-Time Highs and Lows Respectively but Curve Starting to Bend; Same for Need-to-Order; (4)Expected Capacity in All Modes Tighten Sequentially Except Barge; Ocean Now Tightest with TL Close Behind; (5) Service Levels Decline Across All Modes Except Rail Which is Steady
Rail Highlights: (1)Average Rail Volume Growth Expectations in Positive Territory and Above the LT Avg. for the First Time Since 2018; (2)Rail Rate Change Index Up Slightly Seq., Sits Just Below LT Avg. Levels (2.70%); (3)% of Shippers That Expect to Increase Rail Spend Stable but None Plan to Decrease Spend; (4) Intermodal Discount to TL (Ex. Fuel) Back Below LT Averages After Briefly Being Above; (5) Rail Service Reliability Steady but Value for Dollar Falls Slightly Again
Truck Highlights: (1)Volume Growth Expectations Stable to Slightly Down; TL Expectations Linger Near All-Time High Levels;(2) Base Rate Growth Expectations Soar; Now at or Just Shy of Prior Peaks;(3) Shippers Expect Capacity to Tighten Across Trucking; TL Still Expected to Be the Tightest Mode; (4) Value for Dollar Declines or is Stable; IM Still Seen as More Competitive on the Back of TL Rate Inflation but Importance of Fuel Efficiency Returns to Recent Norms; (5) Price and Operating Constrains Close to All-Time Lows for IM vs. Truck; (6) Fewer Shippers Are Shifting From TL to Rail vs. Last Quarter; 75% Staying with TL;(7) More Shippers Shifting from Rail to Truck Than Vice Versa
Parcel Highlights: (1) Volume Growth Across the Board; Now Above Prior Peak Levels;(2) Pricing Expectations Fall in Intl. and Air, Slight Uptick in Ground Following Last Quarter’s Large Decline; (3) “Aggressiveness” Slips Again; Both Carriers Now at an All-Time Low; (4) Some Normalization in % of Shippers Expecting to Ship a Larger Portion of Volumes as B2C”;(5)Airfreight Capacity Remains Tight; Shippers See Capacity Loosening Modestly in 6 Months;(6) Ocean Capacity is Very Tight; Though Shippers See Capacity Loosening in 6 Months; (7) Rate Discounts Mixed for FDX, Move Higher for UPS