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MFW Musings – December 2023

Industry Insights / December 19, 2023


Container Freight:

  • The U.S. imported 2,099,408 twenty-foot equivalent units of containerized goods (TEUs) last month. (Source: Freight Waves)
    • This was a 9% MoM decrease, and 7.4% increase YoY.
    • Along with seasonality, this is MoM decrease is partly due to a decrease in capacity that the Panama Canal can handle with lower water levels.
    • Ocean carriers are facing overcapacity as new ships are delivered, keeping spot rates low.

Logistics Manager Index (LMI):

  • The LMI was 49.4 in November, down 7.1 from October’s 56.5 (Source:
    • This is the first dip from the past three months in expanding rates.
    • Notable components were:
      • Warehouse capacity (+3.6)
      • Transportation capacity (+5.2)
      • Warehouse utilization (-14.0)
      • Transportation utilization (-10.7)

US Manufacturing Purchasing Manager’s Index (PMI):

  • The PMI registered at 46.7 percent, showing no change MoM. (Source:
  • This marks the 13th consecutive month of contraction.
  • The New Orders Index (often seen as a leading indicator) remained in contraction at 48.3, 2.8 points higher than October.

Trucking Tonnage:

  • The ATA marked trucking tonnage at 114.7, which is a 2.5% decline MoM (Source: Transport Topics)
  • While still up YoY by 0.8%, this marks the largest monthly dip since the start of the pandemic.

Retail Sales:

  • Retail sales saw a 0.3% increase MoM to $705.7B, reflecting a spike due to holiday shopping (Source:
  • The YoY mark shows growth from Nov. 2022, which reported $689.4B.

Cass Freight Index:

  • The Cass freight index reported a continued decline in MoM and YoY (Source:
  • The Expenditures index for November reports 3.044, yielding a 1.3% decrease MoM, and a 18.3% decrease YoY.
  • The Shipments index shows November at 1.094, which is a 1.3% decrease MoM and 8.9% decrease YoY.

Logistics Management:

  • With Yellows sunset, the distribution of assets can yield a more consolidated LTL sector (Source:
  • With capacity opening back up into the market, pricing stays in favor of the LTL carriers.
  • Shippers will need to be prepared to see larger than normal increases in LTL prices, with some estimates reaching 6-8%.