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Friday, January 8, 2021
Logistics Intelligence Brief
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Trucking

2021 Rate Outlook: Higher rates dead ahead

Logistics Management Patrick Brunson January 7, 2021

Meanwhile, with a positive backdrop provided by the TL capacity issues, Ross says he sees no reason why LTL can’t continue its steady push of low- to mid-single digit rate increases. “It doesn’t need as much, because LTL is a more consolidated industry with steadier annual price adjustments, but we expect the carriers to take advantage of the rising tide and push closer to 5% than 3% for rate increases in 2021,” he concludes.

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UBS 2021 outlook calls for healthy freight flows in first half

Freight Waves Todd Maiden January 7, 2021

Investors shift focus to industrial economy Wadewitz said investors have already shifted their focus to transportation companies that have more exposure to the industrial economy, like the railroads, shying away from the truckload carriers. He still expects consumer-related freight flows to “stay strong.” The Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) jumped to 60.7% in December, up 3.2 percentage points from November and the seventh straight month of expansion. A reading above 50% implies expansion in the U.S. manufacturing sector. The new orders subindex climbed 2.8 percentage points to 67.9% and the production component moved 4 points higher to 64.8%. Additionally, customers’ inventories remained “too low” at 37.9%, which is “considered a positive for future production,” according to the December PMI report. Wadewitz believes an improving industrial patch will allow rail volumes to “strengthen and peak against easy comps in 2Q21.” Additionally, the revenue and margin profiles of the railroads will improve if industrial carloads catch up with consumer-driven intermodal loads. He’s forecasting 5.5% industrial volume growth in 2021 on a year-over-year basis, which assumes a 3.5% increase in U.S. industrial production.

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Analysts: Restocking in Q1 will keep trucking market hot

Cass' latest Freight Index showed expenditures were up almost 6% in November as rate increases in the spot market have begun to spill over into contracts. The demand at the end of the year was driven by low inventories — the latest figures are for October — that businesses were working to restock. This will keep the freight market hot in the near term, according to Cass. DAT expects restocking to continue into Q1 of 2021, but it does "not think that the continued demand for durable goods will continue at its current pandemic pace," according to its December rate forecast. High freight rates have correlated with trucking companies investing in their fleets, evidenced by a rebound in Class 8 truck orders and trailer purchases through the second half of 2020. The buying activity, coupled with smaller fleets entering the market due to high spot rates, should bode well for capacity moving forward.

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Shippers brace for tight capacity trend to continue in 2021

DC Velocity Ben Ames January 7, 2021

Tight capacity in freight markets across multiple transportation modes is continuing to brew up a recipe of climbing costs and missed loads for shippers, according to several reports released this week.

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Industry

December Class 8 Orders Fourth-Best Ever

Transport Topics Roger Gilroy January 7, 2021

North American Class 8 orders in December notched the fourth-highest volume ever as they surpassed 50,000 for the second consecutive month, according to ACT Research citing truck makers’ initial data. Preliminary net orders in December reached 50,900 compared with 20,073 net orders a year earlier, ACT reported. Full-year orders were 278,400 compared with 180,995 in the 2019 period. In 2018, Class 8 orders reached the all-time high of 490,100.

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Cost of truck repair hits record high in 2020, miles between breakdown fall

CCJ Jason Cannon January 7, 2021

Motor carriers logged 34,629 miles between unscheduled roadside repairs in the third quarter 2020, according to the most recent quarterly benchmarking report compiled by FleetNet America – a slight dip from Q2 but a decrease of more than 5,000 miles from Q3 2019. The truckload segment saw the biggest segment gain – logging 23,223 miles between roadside repairs – equaling the distance posted in 2Q 2020 and doubling mileage from Q3 2019. Best-in-class carriers in the truckload segment logged 54% more miles than the fleet average, hitting 35,906 miles between events. The top carrier in the LTL segment beat the segment average (47,622) by 34%. The top tank carrier more than doubled the rest of the segment, hitting 43,859 miles compared to a 20,115 average.

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Government/Safety

Final DOL Independent Contractor Rule Addresses Trucking

Truckinginfo.com Deborah Lockridge January 7, 2021

The Department of Labor issued a final rule defining independent contractor versus employee under the Fair Labor Standards Act, but its future is uncertain under the incoming Biden administration. However, it’s likely to be delayed or revoked by the incoming Biden administration. The rule was specifically given as an example by the Biden-Harris transition team when it announced plans to issue a memo to take effect after noon on Jan. 20 to halt or delay “midnight regulations,” actions taken by the Trump administration that will have not yet taken effect by inauguration day.

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The DOT’s to-do list: What trucking can expect from Washington in 2021

Transport Dive S.L. Fuller January 7, 2021

Safety and compliance to-dos Several regulatory initiatives from 2020 will carry over, forming a long to-do list in 2021 for the FMCSA. "I believe FMCSA will have a full plate of projects that were placed on the back burner the past 4 years," former agency official Rose McMurray said via email in November. She specifically pointed to underride protection, the rule on sleep-disorder testing and speed-limiting equipment. Just before the new year, the FMCSA made a move toward checking the first item off the list. On Dec. 29, the agency released a notice of proposed rulemaking to include rear-impact guards in required annual inspections. The public-comment window closes March 1.

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Car-Crash Death Rate Surged in 2020

The Wall Street Journal Jo Craven McGinty January 8, 2021

Nationally, vehicle miles traveled dropped an unprecedented 264.2 billion miles over the first half of 2020, a decline of 17% compared with the first half of 2019, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In the same period, the agency estimated the number of fatalities shrank 2%, falling to 16,650 from 16,988 the previous year. But the rate of fatalities grew 18%, rising to 1.25 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled, up from 1.06. In other words, an inordinate number of people died given how many fewer miles they traveled. It was the highest motor-vehicle fatality rate for that span of time in a dozen years. “On less-congested roads, you get fewer collisions, but the collisions you do have are more severe,” said Bob Pishue, an analyst with INRIX, a company that studies traffic patterns. Link: INRIX Pandemic’s Impact on America’s Riskiest Roads

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