Spot Market Freight Rates Remain Stuck

September 30, 2015

By Evan Lockridge

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Freight rates on the spot market continue in their holding pattern, moving up little from one week to the next, according to the freight matching service provider DAT Solutions.

For the week ending Sept. 26, the number of posted loads slipped 0.6% from the previous week, while available capacity dropped 2.7%.

The national average van rate was unchanged from the previous week at $1.75 per mile. All rates include fuel surcharges.

Van load availability held firm, up 0.6%, while posted van capacity decreased 3.6% compared to the previous week. As a result, the national average van load-to-truck ratio jumped 4.4%. meaning there were 1.7 available van loads for every truck posted on the DAT network of load boards.

The national average flatbed rate dipped 0.5% to $2.03 per mile. Flatbed load availability rose 1.3% and truck posts were up 1.1% for the week, leaving the load-to-truck ratio for flatbeds virtually unchanged at 10.3 loads per truck.

Refrigerated load volume dropped 4.7% and available capacity fell 2.5%. As a result, the national refrigerated load-to-truck ratio declined 2.3% to 4.3 loads per truck while the average rate fell 1% to $2.01 per mile.

These figures follow recent ones released by DAT for August showing declines in spot market rates from the month before and even bigger drops from the same time in August.

Much of this is due to a big decline in fuel surcharges over the past year, as fuel prices are down considerably. However, some analysts also point to fact the U.S. economy is growing more slowly that it was during this time in 2014, reducing the demand for freight movements.

The conventional wisdom is that it is highly unlikely spot rates will soon move much higher, unless there is a much higher than expected increase in the upcoming holiday freight season. Currently high inventories argue against a big jump.

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