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Spot Freight Rates Steady, Roadcheck Could Push Them Higher

June 3, 2015

By Evan Lockridge

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Freight rates on the spot truckload market held steady last week, as both capacity and the number of loads available to haul fell, according to the freight matching service provider DAT Solutions.

Based on its network of load boards, the average rate for reefers increased 0.5% to $2.19 per mile May 24-30 compared to the previous seven days. Produce harvests are mostly complete and rates are trending down in Florida, but outbound rates are booming along the Mexican border in Texas and Arizona.

Van rates were unchanged with the average remaining at $1.85 for the fourth straight week as rates rose in high-volume lanes outbound from Philadelphia and declined in Atlanta and Seattle.

The average flatbed rate fell 0.5% to $2.18 per mile.

Load posts were down 17% for the week and truck posts were off by 20%, which is expected with the Memorial Day holiday during last week, according to DAT.

Surprisingly, this pushed load to truck ratios higher in two of these three sectors, with it increasing 17% for flatbeds, meaning there were 22.9 available loads for every flatbed truck posted on the DAT network.

The van load-to-truck ratio climbed 5.5% as there were double digit increases in van-load and truck posts, moving it to 2.5 loads per truck.

In contrast, the reefer load-to-truck ratio fell by 13% to 5.2 loads per truck as demand for reefers fell 24% and truck capacity declined 13%.

In the meantime, there is a thought that spot market rates could move higher this week as the three-day North American roadside truck inspection blitz, Roadcheck, is going on through Thursday.

Writing in the DAT blog, Analyst Peggy Dorf, said the reason is some truckers and carriers may decide to take a little vacation time rather than being on the road this week.

“During Roadcheck week last year, DAT Load Boards saw a 9% decline in truck posts and a 37% increase in load posts,” she wrote. “That week followed the week of Memorial Day, so you would expect a 20% to 25% increase in all load board activity. Load and truck posts typically increase in the first full week following a holiday, because there is one more work day -- five instead of four.”

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