Freight rates for truckload linehaul and intermodal movements continued showing great strength in February, according to figures released Wednesday from one freight payment processor.

February’s Cass Truckload Linehaul Index continued the year-over-year acceleration established in November, December, and January, up 6.3%, 6.2%, and 6.5%, respectively, by posting another 6.5% increase.

This puts the measure at a reading of 131.1, which is down from 133.5 in January and 134.5 in December, the latter being the highest in more than a decade.

After being negative on a sequential basis for 13 months in a row, from March 2016 through March 2017,  the index has not only been positive now for eleven straight months, but pricing for trucking continues to increase.

"In just the last seven months, our pricing forecast for 2018 has improved from negative 1% to 2%, to [increasing between] 6% to 8%, and we now have reason to believe the risk to our estimate may be to the upside," said Donald Broughton, analyst and commentator for the Cass indexes.

He said the current strength being reported in spot rates is leading him 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, on the intermodal side of trucking, latest data point shows total intermodal pricing rose 5.4% in February from the same time a year earlier, putting the Cass Intermodal Price Index at a reading of 137.9. This marked the 17th consecutive month of year-over-year gains, an indication pricing momentum is strengthening.

Tight truckload capacity and higher diesel prices are creating incremental demand and pricing power for domestic intermodal, according to Broughton.

Despite the year-over-year increase in February, the index fell 2.5% from its January level, which was also its highest level in more than 10 years.

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.

About the author
Evan Lockridge

Evan Lockridge

Former Business Contributing Editor

Trucking journalist since 1990, in the news business since early ‘80s.

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