Fleet Management

Spot Freight Rates Give Back Recent Gains

November 19, 2014

By Evan Lockridge

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After recovering somewhat the week before, new numbers show spot market freight rates have turned lower or remain unchanged, according to the freight matching service provider DAT Solutions.

Flatbeds fell 0.9% to an average of $2.32 per mile from Nov. 9 through Nov. 15 compared to the previous seven days, its lowest level out of the past four weeks and three cents less than last month’s average.

Vans declined by 0.5% for an average of $2.02 per mile, very close to where it has been for at least four weeks, while reefers were unchanged at $2.31 per mile.

The numbers came as a 4.5% increase in spot market truck capacity outweighed a 2.7% gain in the number of spot market loads available to haul.

Also, increases in load-to-truck ratios in the van and reefer categories were not strong enough to push rates higher while a 10% drop in the flatbed sector was reflected in its average rate falling slightly. The flatbed ratio fell to 15.1 loads per truck. Vans registered 3 loads available for every truck while the load-to-truck ratio increased 6.7% for reefers to 9.8.

The effect of falling or unchanged overall rates was amplified slightly by a 1.5% average increase in the cost of fuel.

With current spot market truck capacity running tight, recent developments, including snow in parts of the country and congestion at West Coast ports, could help push rates higher, according to DAT Analyst Mark Montague writing in the company’s Freight Talk Blog.

“Delays may add to the pressure on trucking company schedules in the last two weeks before Black Friday. Rates may rise briefly, and more freight will likely find its way to the spot market,” he wrote on Nov. 14. “ If the weather gets bad again and trucks are unable to move easily, that could prevent small fleets from taking advantage of the short-term rate spike. Meanwhile, large fleets are adding trailers to their pools at a record pace in order to preload and cut down time.”

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