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Vaccine delivery progressing with warp speed — Midday Market Update

Could Moderna be next to get fast-tracked vaccine approval?


Forward Air is seeing significant outages across its technology systems after a security incident rendered some computer systems useless. The hack has caused its website to go offline, but a spokesman says all shipments currently in Forward Air’s system will still deliver on time. 

Drivers for Schneider National will start making an additional 4 cents per mile on Jan. 24, with the pay increase following several other initiatives, including six extra paid holidays and raised truck speed limits. 

Restrictions from rail carriers BNSF and Norfolk Southern are causing service delays to intermodal providers like J.B. Hunt. Container shipments have remained steady during a time when they typically drop off, leading to the continued backlog. 

Some ocean carriers are under scrutiny for potentially violating the Shipping Act after allegations surfaced of carriers abandoning U.S. exporters. FMC Commissioner Carl Bentzel stressed it’s imperative for balance to be held between carrier import and export services and that carriers have obligations to provide export services to U.S. companies. 

Anthony Smith, FreightWaves’ lead economist, gives an update on the latest jobless claims and says unemployment claims have increased again close to 900,000. This is the second consecutive week of increases because of a rise in COVID-19 infections. The service industry remains hit hard as states go back into shutdown mode, Smith says. 

The mad dash to the holidays

Michael Vincent and Kevin Hill bring on Matt Pyatt, CEO of Arrive Logistics, who agrees the momentum going into the holiday season is hard to stop. 

He believes capacity and prices are so volatile that it’s hard for brokers to understand where the market is heading as we approach 2021 and the contract bid season. Pyatt says he sees more companies pushing off bid talks to get a better idea of where rates will be and how capacity will change after the holidays. 

Operation Warp Speed moves ahead

FreightWaves Air Cargo Editor Eric Kulisch joins the show to talk about vaccine rollouts across the U.S., saying the current distribution has been incredibly smooth so far. 

He reports so far things have gone to plan, but weather in the Northeast has caused some delays and Pfizer has had to roll back four boxes of its vaccine due to them being too cold. 

Kulisch believes the Moderna vaccine could have approval as soon as Friday and if approved will roll out Monday. The Moderna vaccine will roll out to 3,300 drop spots compared to 600 for the Pfizer vaccine. 

The vaccine distribution has had a minimal impact on the air cargo market so far, but Kulisch says to expect more impact on the FedEx and UPS networks as we move forward with multiple company vaccine distribution. 

You can find more Midday Market Update recaps and recaps for all our live podcasts here.

The FREIGHTWAVES TOP 500 For-Hire Carriers list includes FedEx (No. 1), UPS (No. 2), J.B. Hunt (No. 4), Schneider (No. 7) and Forward Air (No. 37).

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Kaylee Nix

Kaylee Nix is a meteorologist and reporter for FreightWaves. She joined the company in November of 2020 after spending two years as a broadcast meteorologist for a local television channel in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Kaylee graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 2018 and immediately made the Tennessee Valley her home. Kaylee creates written summaries of FreightWaves live podcasts and cultivates the social media for FreightWaves TV.