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National freight volumes now positive for nine straight weeks as 2018 comparisons ease

Outbound tender volumes (OTVI.USA) continued on their upward trajectory and extended their multi-week winning streak dating back to late July. OTVI first crossed over to positive on July 24. It has been positive on a year-over-year basis since. One key question is how much of the sustained volume improvement is being driven by increasing underlying demand compared to how much is being driven by easing comparisons, which eased substantially on a year-over-year basis starting in July as the 2018 freight bull market began to wane in the back half of the year. All looks good on this front so far.

Nationally, outbound tender volumes were up 3.81% year-over-year last week and are above the 60-day moving average by 2.24%. Month-over-month volumes are tracking down 97 basis points (bps) and week-over-week volumes slipped 19 bps. Overall, the volume picture remains very solid.

On a market-by-market basis, nine out of 15 markets were positive on a week-over-week basis. On the upside, Fresno led the way, up 9.4%, followed by Laredo, up 7.5%, and Miami, up 6.0%. Detroit volumes were hammered by the UAW strike, with volumes down 30.4% this week. Besides Detroit, on the downside, the worst markets week-over-week included Savannah (down 9.7%), Cleveland (down 5.0%) and Chicago (down 2.7%).


National rejection rates down this week but not far off recent highs

National tender rejections now sit at 5.22%. Last Tuesday, OTRI.USA briefly broke above the 6% level for the first time since mid-July. On a week-over-week basis, OTRI.USA dropped by 77 bps. Month-over-month it is up 54 bps and year-over-year it is down 12.75%. Despite the drop this week, OTRI.USA has risen in six out of the last eight weeks with tender rejections rising off the bottom experienced in mid-August. National tender rejections have jumped 38.10%, or 1.44 percentage points, in the last 30 days. 

OTRI.USA is now up 68 bps, or 14.98% above its 60-day moving average. Year-over-year comparables for national rejection rates are still extraordinarily difficult due to the daunting 2018 numbers in which rejections never fell below double digits. As a result, on a year-over-year basis, OTRI.USA is down 70.95%.


Seth Holm

Seth Holm is a Senior Research Analyst for the Freight Intel Group at Freightwaves, which publishes proprietary research on all things transports and logistics. Most recently, Seth spent 9 years as an analyst covering consumer and technology, media and telecom (TMT) stocks at a hedge fund. Prior to that, he was as an analyst at a high net worth wealth advisory firm. Seth is a graduate of the University of Georgia with a major in Finance.