Indicators: January freight up big year over year, survey shows fleets optimistic for ‘17

CCJ‘s Indicators rounds up the latest reports on trucking business indicators on rates, freight, equipment, the economy and more.

DAT North American Freight IndexTruck demand, rates see big gains from last January: Though the DAT North American Freight Index declined some in January from December, the monthly indicator pointed to solid year-over-year gains for truck freight and rates.

The number of loads posted in January rose 56 percent from January 2016, DAT reports. Likewise, the drop from December stemmed more from “an exceptionally strong” December, DAT says, rather than a weak January. The index “edged downward as freight settled into a typical post-holiday pattern, albeit at significantly elevated levels compared to this time last year,” DAT’s report notes.

Rates in all three major truckload segments were also higher than last January.

Van freight in January was up 63 percent from the same month last year and up 2 cents year over year. Reefer loads were up 57 percent from January 2016, and rates were up 6 cents. Flatbed demand rose 64 percent from last January, with rates in the segment climbing 3 cents a mile in the same time period.

Survey points to optimism among fleets: The quarterly Fleet Sentiment Survey produced by CK Commercial Vehicle Research indicates fleets feel they’re on solid ground and that they expect the trend to continue in 2017. Planned truck orders for the first quarter of this year, for instance, improved 14 percent from the same quarter last year. Also, the “How’s Business” measure from CKCVR is back on an upward trajectory after more than a year of declining ratings, the survey showed.