Tallies, totals and other trend data in the freight transportation realm



American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index rose 0.6% in January after increasing 0.9% in December, ATA officials announced on Feb. 22. “The index, which is dominated by contract freight with only small amounts of spot market truck freight, is off 3.9% from the all-time high in August 2019 and only 1.5% below March 2020 when the pandemic hit,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “In January, truck tonnage was helped by rising retail sales and factory output. While housing starts fell last month, which is another important driver of truck tonnage, it remained at high levels.”


In January, overall new business volume in the equipment finance sector was $8.3 billion, up 2% year-over-year from new business volume in the same 2021 period, according to the Equipment Leasing and Finance Association’s (ELFA) Monthly Leasing and Finance Index, issued Feb. 24. The index reports economic activity from 25 companies representing a cross section of the $900 billion equipment finance sector. “The pandemic subsiding and the prospect of a return to some sense of normalcy, as well as a robust backlog, raises optimism,” said Dext Capital COO Eric Gross. “These positives are countered with the ongoing supply chain disruptions, inflation, a rising interest rate environment and international tensions. With that said, overall, we think the headwinds are manageable and are bullish on market growth through 2022.”


In January, Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) volumes declined 5.8% to 272,281 twenty-foot equivalent units, with full imports declining 0.9% and full exports declining 36% year-over-year, NWSA reported on Feb. 18. Overall volumes “have been impacted by vessel call omissions, while full exports continue to be affected by a shortage of equipment and vessel capacity due to vessel voids,” NWSA officials said. NWSA is a marine cargo operating partnership of the ports of Seattle and Tacoma.


“Outbound Tender Index Volumes continue to be strong in the new year: Compared to the Outbound Tender Volume Index (OTVI) levels during this time in the previous two years, current OTVI is 7.65% higher than 2021, 54.96% higher than 2020, and 53.65% higher than 2019.” — Schneider National Inc.’s Shipping and Transportation Market Report, issued Feb. 11


“U.S. freight volumes reeled in January from the surge in Omicron cases, with the shipments component of the Cass Freight Index® down 10.8% from December and down 2.9% y/y,” Cass Information Systems Inc. officials said on Feb. 14. “While these effects are lingering in February, they are beginning to fade and we expect a rebound in the coming months as case counts fall sharply.”


For the first seven weeks of 2022, U.S railroads hauled 461,827 carloads of coal, a 13.6% increase compared with the carload total for the same 2021 period, according to Association of American Railroads data issued Feb. 23. The totals exclude U.S. operations of Canadian Pacific, CN and Grupo Mexico. 


FTR’s Trucking Conditions Index for December rose to 14.45, improving from 10.0 in November. The December index reading is the highest since May 2021, FTR officials said on Feb. 14. Falling diesel prices and greater freight volume were the primary improvement drivers, but “strong freight rates remain the bedrock of robust market conditions for trucking companies,” they said. Added FTR Vice President of Trucking Avery Vise: “Government data concerning the labor market is starting to reinforce our analysis that overall driver capacity is not as tight as would be implied by stubbornly high freight rates. We still believe that the distribution of drivers in the market rather than the total number of drivers is the key issue. The market could remain stressed until capacity stops shifting from larger carriers to smaller ones.”


For the first seven weeks of 2022, U.S railroads hauled 461,827 carloads of motor vehicles and parts, a 15.3% decline compared with the carload total for the same 2021 period, according to Association of American Railroads data issued Feb. 23. The totals exclude U.S. operations of Canadian Pacific, CN and Grupo Mexico. 


“In light of Russia’s latest moves on Ukraine that saw conflict break out overnight, we would like to give our valued customers an update on the situation and what it means for A.P. Moller - Maersk services across the region. … As of February 24, all Maersk employees have been instructed to work from home away from any conflict areas and we are pleased to report that they remain safe and well. We have also implemented a business continuity strategy so that we can continue to serve our customers’ supply chain needs as the situation allows. … The current circumstances mean that Maersk has decided not to call any ports in Ukraine until further notice and will stop the acceptance of orders to and from Ukraine until further notice. Services in Russia, meanwhile, currently remain available but are potentially subject to change as things develop. Cargo currently en route is being planned for discharge in Port Said and Korfez.” — a Feb. 24 customer advisory from ocean carrier A.P. Moller – Maersk titled “Russia / Ukraine Situation Update”


February 19th marked the 24th anniversary of Ferromex operating as a private company. The railroad serves the Mexico City-Guadalajara-Monterrey economic triangle, four ports on the Pacific Ocean and two on the Gulf of Mexico.


On Feb. 17, the Equipment Leasing & Finance Foundation released the February 2022 Monthly Confidence Index for the Equipment Finance Industry. “Overall, confidence in the equipment finance market is 61.8, easing from the January index of 63.9,” foundation officials said. “When asked to assess their business conditions over the next four months, 24.1% of executives responding said they believe business conditions will improve over the next four months, a decrease from 25.9% in January. The index reports a qualitative assessment of both the prevailing business conditions and expectations for the future as reported by executives from the $900 billion equipment finance sector.


“Though the backlog of containerships off Southern California was down to 78 as of February 9th from a peak of 109 a month earlier, per our friends at MX SoCal, backlogs have been growing at several other ports, particularly Houston, Charleston and Virginia. This was yet another setback on the supply side.” — The January Cass Freight Index®, issued Feb. 14 by Cass Information Systems Inc.


Fourth-quarter 2021 financial results for transportation/logistics companies were “good overall,” with “roughly 95% of transportation and logistics companies under coverage beat EPS estimates fueled by stronger pricing gains,” wrote Baird Equity Research’s Garrett Holland in a Transportation/Logistics report titled “Q421 Recap: Peak Cycle on the Horizon,” issued Feb. 18. “Transportation stocks declined ~4% in volatile trading during Q421 reporting and generally performed in line with the S&P 500.”  Near term, trends “should remain solid,” Holland wrote, adding that the outlook for “later in 2022 and 2023” is “muddier.”

3 million

The operational stock of industrial robots has increased by 13% each year between 2015 and 2020 to “new record of about 3 million units worldwide,” the International Federation of Robotics (IFR) announced on Feb. 16. Q3 robot orders in the United States were up 35% over the same 2020 period, with more than half the orders coming from non-automotive sectors, IFR officials said, citing Association for Advancing Automation statistics.  in 2020. More than half of the orders are from non-automotive sectors. Machine vision, motion control, and motors are also seeing “big increases,” they said. “The pandemic and the resulting disruptions to supply chains and labor availability appear to have been the push that many needed to justify the investment,” said Susanne Bieller, general secretary of Frankfurt, Germany-based IFR. 

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