Newly released figures show truckload linehaul rates as well as those for intermodal shipments moved higher again in November, when compared to a year earlier. But they also showed declines from the month before.

The Cass Truckload Linehaul Index increased 6.3% over November 2016, with the index at 131.2. This marked the second best reading so far in 2017, but it's down 1% when compared to October.

Overall, the trend showed pricing for trucking is growing ever stronger and continuing to gain momentum. After being negative for 13 months in a row, the index has not only been trending positive on a year-over-year basis for eight months now, but the amount of change continues to increase as well.

"In just the last five months, our pricing forecast has increased from -1% to 2%, to 0% to 2%, to 2% to 4%, and now giving us reason to believe the risk to our estimate may be to the upside," said Donald Broughton, analyst and commentator for the Cass indexes. "The current strength being reported in spot rates is leading us to believe contract pricing rates should keep rates in positive territory well into 2018."

The Cass Truckload Linehaul Index measures market fluctuations in per-mile truckload pricing that isolates the linehaul component of full truckload costs from others, such as fuel and accessorials, providing a reflection of trends in baseline truckload prices.

Meantime, a look at the intermodal side showed total shipping costs rose 3.9% year-over-year in November, according to the Cass Intermodal Price Index, with the measure coming in at 130.6.

This latest reading is down 1.7% from October, but November marked the 14th consecutive month of year-over-year increases, and pricing momentum appears to be growing.

The absolute nominal value of the index established its most recent peak in March at 135.4, as diesel flirted with $2.60 a gallon, and then sequentially trended lower since, as diesel fell back toward $2.50 a gallon in July, noted Broughton.

"Longer term, we continue to foresee oil trading in the $45 to $55 [per barrel] range and diesel in the $2.25 to $2.75 [per gallon] range throughout 2018, sans the refining interruption pressure produced by hurricanes or other catastrophic events,” he said.

The Cass Intermodal Price Index measures market fluctuations in per-mile U.S. domestic intermodal costs. It includes all costs associated with the move, such as linehaul, fuel and accessorials.

Data within both measures come from actual freight invoices paid on behalf of clients of freight-payment processor Cass Information Services, which totals nearly $21 billion annually.

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