Fleet Management

Flatbed Rates Continue Leading Spot Freight Market

April 09, 2014

By Evan Lockridge

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Spot market freight rates for flatbed loads continue soaring, despite a decline in the amount of overall freight, according to new figures released by the freight matching service provider DAT.

It gained 3.2% March 30 through April 5, compared to the previous seven days, hitting an average of $2.30 per mile, a four-week high, as load volume dipped but capacity tightened.

Overall, spot market load availability fell 3.9% while capacity fell by 0.4% during the period.

Click to enlarge.
Click to enlarge.

Rates for the other two sectors didn’t perform as well but remain strong, with vans unchanged at $2.10 per mile, while reefer rates lost 0.4%, averaging $2.27 per mile, both at or very near their four-week highs.

Vans and reefers also saw declines in their load-to-truck ratios, with vans falling 6.3% to 4.3:1, while reefers lost 4.6% at 12:1. The flatbed load-to-truck ratio increased 3.2%, hitting 43.8:1. Load-to-truck ratios represent the number of loads posted for every truck posted nationally on DAT Load Boards.

DAT Analyst Mark Montague says van and reefer rates are “atypically high” for the early spring, in DAT’s Freight Talk Blog.

He says demand for vans is very strong in the Green Bay market, while the supply and demand for them in the Chicago area is nearly even but soft areas for them are emerging in the Northeast and the West.

Reefer demand has strengthened in key markets such as Tucson and McAllen, Texas, likely due to Mexican produce, while demand is off in the Detroit area, Hartford, Conn. and parts of Pennsylvania. As for flatbeds, “demand is high everywhere,” except in western North Dakota.

The overall picture continues to be one of robust demand on the one side, and constrained capacity on the other,” said Montague. “Van and reefer rates appear to have stabilized for now, and trucks are readily available in some major markets.”

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