North America Transportation Volumes Update

The Association of American Railroads Wednesday reported US rail traffic for the week ending Feb. 13, 2016. For that week, total US weekly rail traffic was 505,148 carloads and intermodal units, down 3.8 per cent compared with the same week last year.

US Rail Car Loadings

Total carloads for the week ending Feb. 13 were 244,334 carloads, down 15.4 percent compared with the same week in 2015, while US weekly intermodal volume was 260,814 containers and trailers, up 10.4 per cent compared to 2015.

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US Truckload Rates

According to a report from DAT Solutions, based on its network of load boards, an 0.8 per cent increase in freight for the week ending Feb. 13 came as truck capacity grew by 1.2 per cent.

With the national average diesel price falling below US$2 per gallon, truckload rates on the spot market continued their downward trend. Freight brokers usually quote a one-time price that includes both a line-haul portion and the fuel surcharge, so declining fuel prices influence spot market rates significantly, according to DAT.

The number of van load posts dropped by 6 per cent last week, while truck posts were 1 per cent higher than the previous week. The van load-to-truck ratio fell 6 per cent, resulting in 1.3 van loads for every truck posted on the DAT network. The national average van rate dropped 4 cents last week to US$1.58 per mile. All rates include fuel surcharges.

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North American Freight Index

Spot market freight volume declined 9.1 per cent in January, and truck- load line haul rates edged down, compared to December. The month- over-month decline was typical of seasonal norms, according to the DAT North American Freight Index. January freight availability in-

creased in only three of the past 20 years represented in the Index. The exceptions were January 2010, 2013 and 2014.

Global Shipping Index

The Baltic Dry Index is finally starting to show some stability after setting fresh record lows on a near-daily basis for the past few months.

The BDI set a record of 290 points on Feb. 10, but has since posted gains for the past four sessions, settling at 301 on Tuesday. It was above 1,200 as recently as August 2015, and had never been below 500 points since records began in 1985 prior to its latest downturn.

The BDI is compiled daily by the London-based Baltic Exchange and provides an assessment of the price of moving major raw materials by sea, including grain.