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Logistics Intelligence Brief
Wednesday, May 31, 2023


US truckload market ‘bouncing’ along pricing bottom: analysts

The Journal Of Commerce William B. Cassidy May 30, 2023

After plummeting for more than a year, a bottom to the US truckload spot market is emerging, although its exact contours are hard to trace. Spot dry van, refrigerated and flatbed rates were all rising on a week-to-week basis in late May, but that doesn’t mean the spot market has reached an inflection point.
“May will be pivotal for shippers, brokers and carriers,” Ken Adamo, chief of analytics at DAT Freight & Analytics, said in a statement last week.
“We expect to see the effects of seasonality on freight volumes and rates,” he said. “The question is how sustainable those effects will be.”

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Kohl’s inventory down 6% as it makes way to chase merchandise

Supply Chain Dive Ben Unglesbee May 31, 2023

• Kohl’s has made progress on its goal to reduce inventory, with levels down 6% YoY to $3.5 billion in Q1.
• The decline fell in line with the retailer’s planned reductions, CEO Tom Kingsbury told analysts last week, adding that Kohl’s has started regular inventory clearance initiatives to jettison slower-moving stock, free up cash and increase turnover.
• “We feel good about our Q2 inventory levels and are well positioned from a liquidity perspective with plenty of room to chase,” Kingsbury said. “This is a positive given the persistent macroeconomic headwinds.”

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U.S. Manufacturers Seek China Alternatives as Tensions Rise

The Wall Street Journal John Keilman May 31, 2023


China accounts for 31% of global manufacturing, according to the United Nations Industrial Development Organization, nearly twice the 17% share of the U.S. It is also an important market for many U.S. companies.
Ventilator company CorVent Medical relies on Chinese plants for the stamped sheet metal, micro-blowers and other components that go into its products. But CEO Richard Walsh said that process hasn’t always gone smoothly.
That headache came on top of spiraling costs and shipping that stalled during Covid-related logjams. CorVent is opening its own factory in Fargo, N.D., to assemble the ventilators, but with 60% to 70% of the parts coming from China, Walsh said it would likely take years to switch to domestic sources.

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Diesel Prices Slip 2.8¢ to $3.855

Transport Topics May 30,2023

• Diesel prices have fallen in 16 of the past 17 weeks, with the exception being a 1.8-cent rise April 17.
• The average diesel price has shed 76.7 cents per gallon since Jan. 30.
• Diesel prices are down $1.684 a gallon on average from this time in 2022.
• Diesel prices were down on average in all 10 regions in EIA’s weekly survey, ranging from a high of 7.3 cents a gallon in the West Coast less California to eight-tenths of a cent in the Central Atlantic.
Link: Energy And Information Administration Gasoline and Diesel Fuel Update

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New UP intermodal service from Houston to provide West Coast reach

The Journal Of Commerce Michael Angell May 30, 2023


Union Pacific Railroad Tuesday said it will begin offering intermodal service directly from the Port of Houston on June 1, broadening the number of discretionary cargo markets Houston can reach, including those close to ports on the US West Coast.
UP’s current schedule information shows a five-day transit time from Barbours Cut to its Long Beach intermodal ramp. Transit times to Salt Lake City are seven days, while its Denver service offers a nine-day transit from Houston.

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The AI Boom Runs on Chips, but It Can’t Get Enough

The Wall Street Journal Deepa Seetharaman And Tom Dotan May 29, 2023


The artificial-intelligence revolution is being likened by Google’s chief executive to humanity’s harnessing of fire. Now if only the industry could secure the digital kindling to fuel it.
Access to tens of thousands of advanced graphics chips is crucial for companies training large AI models that can generate original text and analysis. Without them, work on the large language models that are behind the AI runs much slower, founders say. Nvidia’s advanced graphic chips excel at doing lots of computations simultaneously, which is crucial for AI work.

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Back-Office Job Demand Remains Steady at Fleets (Yellow References)

Transport Topics Hilary Daninhirsch May 30, 2023

Fortunately, many companies are reporting more stability in hiring these vital back-office workers. Sarah Statlander, vice president of human capital and talent acquisition at Yellow, said the LTL carrier has not seen much of a downturn in hiring in operations leadership roles, either during or since the pandemic.
Yellow’s Statlander said that the company has been working on retention over the past few years; drivers, dockworkers and supervisors are included in these initiatives. “Communicate. Make sure new hires understand the requirements of the job,” she said. “The terminals and locations that really place emphasis on that are the places we have seen great improvement in terms of our retention, and dispatchers are a big key to that.”
She emphasized the importance of talking to drivers and dockworkers and having connection with them. “We’ve read studies that drivers will leave if they don’t feel like they are being respected or listened to,” Statlander said. “Our dispatchers and dockworkers are a big key in that relationship.”
Training and leadership development are keys to retention, she noted. “We have a robust supervisor onboarding program that we launched in the last year,” Statlander said, adding that Yellow has an apprenticeship program that provides on-the-job training.

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Where Is the U.S. Economy Headed? Follow the Money

The Wall Street Journal Matt Wirz May 31, 2023


What to watch
Recessions over the past 30 years have closely tracked the willingness of banks to lend out the cash they collect from depositors. Bankers are charging higher interest rates on loans to consumers and corporations and for commercial real estate, according to the Fed’s senior loan officer opinion survey. They are also demanding that borrowers post more collateral.

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