Freight Futures lane to watch today: National Futures Forward Curve
Sentiment in the Trucking Freight Futures markets on Thursday turned slightly negative with 10 of the 11 markets being slightly down or unchanged for the day. The spot National contract (FUT.VNU201910) ended the session fractionally lower to $1.425 per mile. Both the West regional (FUT.VWU201910) and South regional (FUT.VSU201910) contracts followed suit, closing down 0.2% and 0.1% to $1.543 and $1.300, respectively. The East regional contract (FUT.VEU201910) finished unchanged at $1.431.
The market appears to be heading into a period of uncertainty. While the overall state of the trucking economy appears to have stabilized, recent economic indicators point to difficult times ahead, particularly after the upcoming holiday season. Overlaying the forward curve for the National futures contract (FWD.VNU) versus the DAT Long Haul Freight Rate Index (DATVF.VNU) seems to support this notion. The chart below shows relative stability today, with the futures market pointing to a strengthening of the national rate to about $1.50 per mile through the end of 2019. After the holiday season, futures point towards a dramatic rate drop in the first half of 2020 to about $1.30, indicating that an already soft seasonal pattern may be exacerbated by a potentially challenging economic environment ahead.