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Spot Freight Rates Post Big Increases

March 12, 2014

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Rates on the spot market have spiked over the past week, according to new figures from the freight-matching service provider DAT.

Reefers picked up the most of the three categories from March 2 through March 8, compared to the week before, adding 6.2%, for an average of $2.23 per mile, while vans increased 4% to $2.07 per mile. Flatbeds gained 2.4% for $2.15 per mile.

This happed as the number of spot market loads fell just by 0.2% while truck capacity declined 7.2%, putting further pressure on rates as shippers continue to work through a backlog of freight from weather delays, according to DAT.

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Not surprisingly, load-to-truck ratios increased, with the biggest happening with reefers, adding 12.1%, followed by vans increasing 7.6% and flatbeds gaining 3.9%.

Meantime, new monthly numbers show spot market freight availability climbed 7.5 % in February from January, achieving unprecedented levels in the middle of the first quarter, typically the quietest time of the year for freight transportation. Extreme winter weather across the country disrupted normal supply chain networks, sending freight to the spot market to meet capacity needs

February load availability compared to the month before rose 9.1% for vans and 16% for flatbeds, but only 1.3% for refrigerated trailers.

Year-over-year freight volumes surged 83% during February to a new single-month record. Van freight increased 87%, flatbed freight rose 71% and reefer freight volume more than doubled with a 112% gain.

Capacity demands boosted spot market rates to atypical highs in February, especially for vans and reefers, according to DAT. This is seen in the year-over-year increase in all three major equipment types, as rates rose 23% for vans, 14% for reefers and 4.7% for flatbeds. Compared to January 2014, which had similar weather disruptions to the supply chain and unseasonal freight on the spot market, rates rose a more modest 2.7% for vans and 6.7% for reefers, but declined 1.3% for flatbeds.

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