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New index gives all-in maritime and intermodal spreads to the Midwest

We are regularly enhancing and improving SONAR to meet the needs of the ever-changing freight market and the needs of our customers. To help keep SONAR users informed, we deliver a brief recap of newly released data sets, market indices, and product feature improvements in our This Week in SONAR series.

More than a year ago, we released the Panama spread (FBXD.PANA), which shows the difference in the cost of moving an ocean container from China to the East Coast versus the West Coast.

Now we’re releasing an updated version that includes intermodal spot prices to the major Midwest market, Chicago, so that shippers, freight forwarders, and intermodal marketing companies can get a better read on the competitive landscape.

IMSPRD.PANA measures the difference between the all-in rates to ship goods from China to the Midwest through West Coast ports and East Coast ports. Specifically, we combine daily maritime container spot rates and weekly intermodal spot rates to compare the costs of moving freight from China to Chicago on different lanes.

IMSPRD.PANA is calculated by adding FBXD.CNAE and INTRM.SAVCHI (multiplied by the mileage to derive the actual intermodal cost) and then subtracting the sum of FBXD.CNAW and INTRM.LAXCHI (again, multiplied by the mileage to derive the actual intermodal cost).

The index is measured in dollars: a positive reading tells SONAR users how much more expensive routing Asian freight through the East Coast in dollars per container; a negative reading indicates that East Coast lanes are at a discount to West Coast lanes.

The intermodal-adjusted Panama spread is of interest to beneficial cargo owners, freight forwarders, NVOCCs, railroads, intermodal marketing companies, and port authorities who are trying to decide how to import Asian goods into the center of the United States or who are competing for import business.

IMSPRD.PANA tells SONAR users the cost difference between importing Asian goods via ocean container and intermodal rail to Chicago via West Coast ports like Los Angeles versus using East Coast ports like Savannah. The index helps shippers and freight forwarders make decisions about the most cost-effective way to move freight. The index also helps intermodal marketing companies, railroads, and port authorities understand the freight marketplace and compete to win freight.


SONAR is the fastest and most comprehensive freight market data and analytics platform in the world. These are just a few of the hundreds of unique data sets available to SONAR subscribers. Not a SONAR user yet? Sign up for a free test drive here.

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