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During February the transportation capacity growth rate was higher, indicating a recovery in the industry.

The latest supply chain report showed that transportation prices increased from low levels for the second time during February. However, the transportation capacity growth rate was higher, indicating that a significant recovery in the freight transportation cycle has not yet begun.

The Logistics Managers Index (LMI) is a diffusion indicator signaling expansion above 50 and contraction below 50. In February, the transportation prices sub-index rose to 57.6, an increase of 1.8 from the previous month, according to LMI data. This increase marks a significant shift as the index had been in contraction territory since July 2022, before January.

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According to data shared by FreightWaves, sector-wise analysis shows that companies such as wholesalers and manufacturers (60.9) recorded a stronger indication of prices compared to retailers (52.7). Furthermore, the overall transportation prices sub-index showed a slowdown throughout February, dropping from 62 in the first two weeks of the month to 52.4 in the second half.

Severe winter storms in January forced many carriers to park trucks for several days, reducing total capacity and causing a temporary increase in rates. The accumulated freight took a couple of weeks to clear out. As it diminished, so did spot rates.

Future expectations in the transportation industry according to LMI

The overall LMI increased by almost one point in February, reaching 56.5, with all eight of its sub-components showing expansion for the second consecutive month. However, the reading remains below the historical average of 62.4 from the 7.5-year dataset.

Inventory levels have steadily increased over the past five months, reaching 58.5 points. Storage capacity remained in expansion territory at 52.8 points, although growth decreased for the third consecutive month. Utilization has significantly increased by 7.6 points, reaching 66.3, possibly due to inventory accumulation in the supply chain, while storage prices have experienced a similar growth rate as in January, reaching 64.2 points.

Although capacity growth exceeds price growth, indicating that a true growth period in the freight transportation market has not yet been achieved, a shift is on the horizon. Future expectations show a slight positivity in transportation capacity for the next year, with a reading of 50.5, compared to a more pronounced increase in prices, reaching 77.1. This suggests an increase in price expectations compared to the previous month.

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