Fleet Management

DAT: Spot Market Rates Fall but Still Strong

February 19, 2014

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Newly released figures from the freight-matching service provider DAT show rates on the spot market are down slightly over the past week in two the three major categories and while it unchanged in another.

Nationally, the average spot rate for van freight was unchanged at $1.97 per mile during the week ending Feb. 15 compared to the previous week, despite a slight drop in load volume.

On the upside, halfway through the month, the average van rate is 21 cents higher than during February 2013.

Van-load volume decreased 3% last week while available capacity increased 4.6%. That moved the load-to-truck ratio to 4.8, down 7.2% from 5.2 the prior week. Load-to-truck ratios represent the number of loads posted for every truck posted on the DAT network of load boards.

The national average rate for flatbeds slipped a penny to $2.08 per mile. The number of posted flatbed loads decreased 3.6% last week while capacity tightened 1.1%. As a result, the load-to-truck ratio dropped 2.6% to 20.8 from 21.3 the prior week.

For reefers, overall load volume fell 5.1% last week and capacity increased 4.3%, pushing the load-to-truck ratio down 9% to 14.5 from 16 the prior week. The national average rate for reefers dipped 3 cents to $2.13 per mile after surging 10 cents per mile the prior week. 

February is usually a slow month for over-the-road freight, but challenging weather and traffic conditions in much of the country have wreaked havoc on transportation schedules, according to DAT

Regionally, rates remain strong in weather-affected areas. The average outbound rate from Chicago climbed 9 cents and rates have increased 10% over the past four weeks. The average rate from Atlanta was unchanged at $2.00 per mile last week as another winter storm hit the area. Buffalo, the most volatile market this winter, increased 3 cents to $2.22 per mile last week; the average outbound rate is up 13.5% since mid-January.

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