Transport-Centric Macroeconomic Metrics – April 2020 update

by Mike Mulqueen

We are beginning to see the impact of the global shutdown in some of the transport-centric macroeconomic metrics. Below are some factors that we are following that you may find of interest.

National Diesel Prices 
National Diesel Prices
Data Source: EAI

Diesel has now fallen 14 consecutive weeks to a national average of 2.51 as of April 13th. This is the lowest diesel has been since July 2017.

Oil – West Texas Intermediate (WTI) Crude 
Oil - West Texas Intermediate (WTI) Crude
Data Source: NYMEX

West Texas Intermediate crude oil has fallen below $20 / barrel. Prices have not been this low since 1998. Global demand has fallen and inventories are extremely high. We expect that oil prices will not recover quickly even if demand rises due to the inventory overhang.

Ocean Container – East Asia to US (East and West Coast) 
Ocean Container - East Asia to US (East and West Coast)
Data Source: Freightos

Container rates from Asia to the US are stable. While demand has fallen, rates are being held up by a record number of blank sailings.

DAT Van Rates 
DAT Van Rates
Data Source: DAT

TL Spot and contract rates continue to fall. Industrial, consumer discretionary, energy and large sections of retail have largely ceased operations.

Unlike the steamship lines, the fragmented nature of trucking means it is very difficult to reduce capacity in an orchestrated way. This implies there will be further rate compression.

Mike Mulqueen is a Partner at JBF Consulting and leads the Logistics Technology Strategy practice. JBF Consulting is a unique supply chain execution consultancy of TMS experts. Sign up here to receive the JBF Freight Transportation Bulletin, published monthly:

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