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Freight Volumes Cool Off Significantly This Week


Outbound tender volumes (OTVI.USA) rose by just 1.35% year-over-year this week, down sharply compared to the year-to-date high of 6.78% from two weeks ago. While tepid, this continues their upward trajectory and extends their multi-week winning streak dating back to late July, when OTVI first crossed over to positive on July 24. It has been positive on a year-over-year basis since. 

Nationally, outbound tender volumes were up 1.35% year-over-year this week. Month-over-month volumes are tracking down 6.15% and week-over-week volumes fell 2.07%. Overall, the volume picture is positive but weakening substantially relative to the past several weeks. As we enter peak season, it will be important to watch whether volumes can stay positive or accelerate.

On a market-by-market basis, just three of the 15 major markets FreightWaves tracks were positive on a week-over-week basis, reflecting the 2.07% week-over-week drop in national volumes. On the upside, Fresno led the way, up 16.7%, followed by Chicago, up 4.4% and Atlanta, up 0.3%. Detroit volumes continue to be severely impacted by the UAW strike, though they are showing some signs of stabilizing, falling 18.6% year-over-year and 2.1% week-over-week. On the downside, the worst markets week-over-week included Seattle (down 8.5%), Miami (down 8.4%) and Los Angeles (down 8.2%).



National Rejection Rates Fall Again This Week

National tender rejections now sit at 4.80%. The tender rejection story has been much slower to develop, likely a reflection of stubbornly high capacity in the market. Relative to the lows earlier this year, trends in tender rejections are encouraging though.

OTRI.USA briefly broke above the 6% level for the first time since March back on September 17 but has since taken a noticeable step back. On a week-over-week basis, OTRI.USA fell by 20 basis points (bps). Month-over-month, it is down 117 bps and year-over-year it is down 888 bps compared to 13.68% at this time last year. On a trending basis, OTRI.USA looks good but the pace is stalling, having risen in seven out of the last 11 weeks with tender rejections rising off of the 3.75% bottom experienced in mid-August. National tender rejections are 3.2% below their 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 percentage basis, OTRI.USA is down 64.9%. As can be seen in the chart below, comparisons do not start to ease until the January and February timeframe in 2020.


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