In the first quarter of 2013, the spot market stayed mostly flat, showing little volatility, which, according to BB&T Capital Markets, was great news for shippers but gave carriers less of a reason to be happy.
The absence of volatility, the analysts noted, has not been friendly to C.H. Robinson's truck brokerage operations. BB&T Capital Markets noted truck brokers perform better when there's either a shortage or excess of capacity.
The analysts saw there wasn’t a consistent surge in demand in the spot market outside of weather-related anomalies. Dry van spot rates have stayed flat for the past month. There are pockets of spot activity, however. The Southeast, Texas and parts of the Midwest are all moving along well. Southern California, though, is weak.
The Internet Truckstop spot rate tracking model showed an 11-percent rise in rates during the past two months, but this increase is across all trucking niches. BB&T Capital Markers analysts chalked up 4 percent of this rise to fuel surcharges, while the rest impacted base rates. Finally, they commented, most of the increase came from seasonal activity.
The industry may be showing signs of capcity tightening, however.
“Many fleets have seen trucks laid over with winter storms, thereby hurting fleetwide utilization, but there is a sense, excluding storms, that supply and demand have tightened,” the analysts wrote. - Jon Ross