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Spot Market Freight Availability Stable, Rates Generally Slip

August 13, 2014

By Evan Lockridge

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The amount of freight available on the spot market remained stable over the past week, while rates have improved little if any, according to freight matching service provider DAT -- but things could turn around soon.

Available loads fell 1% August 3 through August 9 compared to the previous seven days, while spot market truck capacity increased just 0.2%

The average flatbed rate gained 0.4% to $2.45 due to continued high demand and limited capacity. In contrast, vans fell 2.9% to $2.00 per mile. Compared to three weeks ago, van rates are down 10 cents. Also down were reefers, by 3.8% to $2.26 per mile, marking a 14-cent decline over the past three weeks. However, reefer rates are still 11 cents higher than the August 2013 average.

Load-to-truck ratios were mixed, with reefers posting a 3.1% increase to 9.2 to 1, while vans added 0.7% hitting at 3.1 to 1. Flatbeds had the only decline, sinking 4.9%, but ratios are still high at 34.6 to 1.

Despite rates and freight generally declining this week and just the former the week before, this was expected, said DAT in late July in its Freight Talk Blog. However, the trend may not last for long, due to harvests in the late summer to near Winter and recent indications of a slowly improving American economy.

Now there is an added expectation for higher rates, tighter capacity due to new regulations, according to a blog post earlier this week. It points out since new hours-of-service regulations went into effect just over a year ago, trucking productivity has fallen. At the same time, expected new rules covering increased insurance requirements, electronic logging devices, enforcement by the California Air Resources Board, among other regulatory matters, could further constrain trucking’s already tight capacity. 

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