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If the trucking market were the ocean, red flags would be fluttering along the beach to warn of all the crosscurrents and riptides that make it treacherous to predict freight’s near-term future and its impact on the broader economy.
The freight industry is slowing in general, but it’s not so much falling off a cliff as returning to earth from the soaring heights of a hot cargo market that peaked in the fourth quarter last year. Having a crystal ball is most important now because how cargo demand holds up over the next couple of months will determine the leverage shippers will have to push for lower rates as they negotiate freight contracts for 2023.
Consumer spending is cooling, and there are pockets of weakness, such as housing, that are weighing down cargo volume. United Parcel Service Inc.’s average daily package volume in the US fell 1.5% in the third quarter from a year earlier and is likely to…