This c-suite synopsis is taken from our State of Freight INSIGHTS report. This report is provided to all of our Premium clients.
TRUCKING: Higher diesel prices cannot wreck trucking’s strong market fundamentals.
RAILCAR: The carload market faced February headwinds. It won't derail the overall pattern of stronger growth in 2021.
INTERMODAL: February's weak results included weather effects and are not indicative of the broader fundamentals.
SHIPPERS: Shipper's face the most challenging market conditions since the beginning of the pandemic.
Mother Nature has made things diﬃcult for analysts and forecasters. February’s severe winter weather had already aﬀected weekly rail and truck spot market metrics, but several key economic indicators for February were distorted by weather. March indicators also will be distorted to the upside by the lack of severe weather, although the third round of stimulus that hit in March will be distortion enough.
• The only real strength was in payroll jobs, which jumped by 916,000 in March after 468,000 jobs added in February.
• The Federal Reserve blamed weather for most of the impact on industrial production, although manufacturing would have been negative anyway, largely due to the impact of the semiconductor shortage on automotive.
• Retail sales were weaker in February, but that probably is mostly due to the timing of the second round of stimulus.
• Universal weakness in housing sales and construction metrics cannot be fully explained by bad weather.