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Spot Market Freight, Rates Remain Mixed Proposition

November 5, 2015

By Evan Lockridge

SHARING TOOLS        | Print Subscribe
Image: DAT
Image: DAT

If you are looking to the spot market to move some freight, it remains a good news/bad news situation, based on recent numbers.

The good news, according to freight-matching service provider DAT Solutions, is load posts in the first nine months of this year were at their second highest level recorded. This follows last year’s record high level, plus there is still plenty of freight to move right now, according to the company.

The bad news is there are also a lot of trucks available, meaning spot market capacity isn’t so tight, and along with fuel prices that are down significantly from a year earlier, rates are  lower. For instance, the average van rate last month was $1.77 per mile compared to $2 a year earlier. The reason is all but 1 cent of that difference is the fuel surcharge is half of what it was a year ago.

No matter how you look at the current situation, the one thing that's clear is rates remain nearly stuck in a holding pattern the past few weeks.

The national average van rate fell just 0.6% from a week ago to $1.71 per mile, following no change the week before and is down just 2 cents from three weeks earlier. This latest performance came despite the van load-to truck ratio increasing 11% from last week, meaning there were 1.5 van loads of freight available to haul for every truck posted on the DAT network of load boards.

There was also a similar drop from the previous week and from three weeks earlier in the average refrigerated rate, causing it to drop to $1.94 per mile. Its 2.3% increase in the load-to-truck ratio moved it to 3.6 to 1, as the number of truck posts increased by just 0.5% over the past week while truck capacity in the sector fell 1.7%.

Finally, in the flatbed market the average rate remained at $2 per mile for the third straight week, which is down just 1 cent from three weeks earlier. The rate held from last week despite the load to truck ratio falling to 8.5 to 1 as load posts were steady but the number of trucks available to move flatbed freight increased 7.8%.

All this activity happened as the number of total spot market freight loads to move increased 2.6% over the past week while tuck capacity eased 0.5% and fuel prices fell 1.3%.

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