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SONAR Sightings: Comeback season as Dallas, Cincinnati, Denver rise from 2-year lows

The highlights from Thursday’s SONAR reports are below. For more information on SONAR — the fastest freight-forecasting platform in the industry — or to request a demo, click here. Also, be sure to check out the latest SONAR update, TRAC — the freshest spot rate data in the industry.

Market Watch for Oct. 6:


Outbound tender volumes in Dallas are starting to pick up after reaching a two-year low earlier this week.

The Outbound Tender Volume Index for Dallas moved up 11 points, or 3.2%, since Monday.

Dallas serves as a central distribution hub and point for carriers to hand off freight moving from east to west, but inbound tender volumes have been trending down consistently for almost a month now. 

Since Sept. 12, the Inbound Tender Volume Index is down more than 36 points, or 12%, to a two-year low. Given that, it is fair to say that the recent jump in outbound freight shipments are coming strictly out of Dallas, moving the Headhaul Index up 22% to 94.1 — its highest value since August.

However, rejection rates are dropping, as carriers are accepting almost all of their contracted freight. The Outbound Tender Reject Index dropped 107 basis points this week to 3.6% — the lowest they have been in Dallas since 2020.

SONAR Tickers: HAUL.DAL, OTRI.DAL with “Dual” display


In the Midwest, Cincinnati is also recovering from a two-year low in outbound volume.

After taking a 12% drop in volumes at the end of September, the Outbound Tender Volume Index in Cincinnati dropped another 5 points earlier this week to its lowest value since 2020. Although the index recovered the points overnight, it is now only where it was before the most recent decline at 95.8 — still a two-year low.

Inbound tender volumes, on the other hand, are essentially in a free-fall after reaching a six-month high at the end of September. Since Sept. 29, the Inbound Tender Volume Index is down more than 17 points, or 18.7%, to 74.3. 

The drop in both directional flows of volume kept the Headhaul Index in Cincy in a stalemate for a couple of days, but the recent uptick in outbound volumes while inbound freight remains on the downhill pushed it up 162% to 21.5.

Despite increased outbound volumes, carriers are sticking to their contracted freight and pushing rejection rates down. Capacity is loosening as the Outbound Tender Reject Index dropped 93 bps overnight to 3.5% — the lowest value seen since 2020.

SONAR Tickers: OTVI.CVG, OTRI.CVG with “Dual” display


Continuing with comeback stories, the Denver market is rising out of a two-year low of outbound volumes that it found itself in at the beginning of the fourth quarter this month.

The Outbound Tender Volume Index in Denver dropped nearly 40 points in the last three days of September but is starting to claw its way back up. Since Saturday, the index is up 17 points to 163.6, still a very low value for this market but perhaps the increase will continue into the winter peak season.

The major decline in outbound freight levels allowed inbound shipments to exceed them for a short time, causing Denver’s Headhaul Index to plunge into the negative for the first time since February. However, now that outbound flows are picking back up, the Headhaul Index moved back into the positive to 2.7.

Capacity remains split on accepting contract freight or searching the spot market for opportunities. The Outbound Tender Reject Index is experiencing major stagnation, as it has only moved about 30 bps since the start of the month and currently sits at 7.8%.

SONAR Tickers: OTRI.DEN, HAUL.DEN with “Dual” display

NTI as a point of reference

The National Truckload Index is a daily look at how spot rates in specific lanes hold up in comparison to the national average, giving carriers and brokers an idea of which lanes to gravitate toward or avoid.

NTI Daily

Lane to watch: Cincinnati to Memphis

Spot market rates from Cincy to Memphis were extremely volatile in the months of August and September, rising to almost $4 a mile before dropping down to nearly $3. This month, however, rates are remaining more consistent — at least for now. 

Average spot rates in this lane are currently paying $3.27 a mile, but it is important to note that this lane is given a confidence score of 2, meaning that there is a good amount of volatility in what is being offered. Still, the average rates in TRAC are 53 cents above the national average — not bad at all for only one transit day for carriers that may want to stay regional.

In addition, rejection rates out of Memphis are currently at a two-month high of 6.2%. This burst in outbound tender rejections will place upward pressure on spot rates leaving the market, and a return trip back to Cincinnati is currently paying $2.83 a mile.

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Watch: Carrier update

Corey Smith

Corey is a staff writer for FreightWaves with experience in air, intermodal and parcel operations, as well as LTL and full truckload transportation management. He is a graduate of the University of Memphis, majoring in supply chain management, and enjoys basketball, cinema and traveling.