Spot Truckload Freight Rates Stall, Available Loads Increase

May 5, 2016

By Evan Lockridge

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The number of spot market loads jumped 9% during the final week of April compared to the previous week, according to DAT Solutions and its network of load boards, but rates showed hardly any improvements.

This happened as demand for trucks to move freight moved higher, overall truck capacity fell 2% and the national average diesel price rose another 7 cents to $2.27 a gallon.

“Spot market volumes increased significantly in the top 100 van lanes, in part due to a spillover from produce markets in the Southeast and parts of California,” said DAT. “When reefer carriers are busy, they aren’t competing for van loads.”

The van load-to-truck ratio increased from 1.4-to-1 to 1.6-to-1 compared to the previous week, and the national average rate was unchanged for the third straight week at $1.50 per mile. Higher spot van rates in the southern states were offset by sagging prices in the Northeast and the Midwest.

In the flatbed market, spot load volume jumped 4.5% while capacity fell 2% compared to the previous week. This led to an uptick in the flatbed load-to-truck ratio, from 19.8-to-1 to 21.1-to-1 loads per truck. The national average flatbed rate was unchanged at $1.90 per mile.

Demand for reefers heated up as the number of load posts increased 19%. Truck capacity dropped 3% and the load-to-truck ratio rose from 2.6 to 1 to 3.2 to 1 loads per truck. The national average spot reefer rate increased 1 cent to $1.79 per mile.

“Reefer volumes rebounded in a big way last week, thanks to early harvests in California and late produce shipments from Florida,” said DAT Analyst Matt Sullivan in the company’s blog. “Other top states for produce are Texas and Georgia, and rates are trending up in the southern parts of both states.”

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