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Spot Freight Rates Rise for Vans, Reefers as Demand Increases

November 9, 2016

By Evan Lockridge

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Spot market truckload rates and the amount of available freight posted gains for the week ending Nov. 5 as the number of trucks posts slipped, according to DAT Solutions and its network of load boards.

At $1.70 per mile, the average van rate was up 5 cents week-over-week and was just 1 cent below year-ago levels. For reefers, rates looked more like the June produce peak than the first week in November, jumping 7 cents from the previous week to an average of $1.97 per mile. In contrast, flatbeds held nearly steady at $1.91 per mile, close to where it been the past month.

This happened as the amount of available spot market freight increased 4.8%, truck postings fell 2% and the average cost of diesel fuel declined 1 cent to $2.47 per gallon.

Van and reefer load-to-truck ratios jumped, with vans up 9% to 3 to 1 while reefers added 13% to 6.8 to 1. Flatbeds posted a decline of 2%, hitting 14.1 to 1

Van load posts rose 7% and truck posts dropped 2% last week. Price changes were small on most individual lanes but the overall effect boosted the average linehaul rate to just 1 cent below the average for this time last year.

Several van markets are much stronger than they were a month ago, especially in the West, such as Los Angeles, Dallas, Denver, Seattle, and Stockton, that connect the region to much of the East Coast, according to DAT.

The top van markets by region all showed gains:

  • Northeast: Buffalo, $1.97 per mile, up 6 cents
  • West: Los Angeles, $2.07 per mile, up 4 cents
  • South Central: Dallas, $1.51 per mile, up 1 cent
  • Midwest: Chicago, $2.05 per mile, up 1 cent
  • Southeast: Charlotte, N.C., $1.91 per mile, up 2 cents

Meantime, reefer rates haven't been this high since mid-July. With produce and other fresh food moving into position for Thanksgiving, reefer load posts unexpectedly increased 10% last week while truck posts declined 2.5%.

DAT said rates on the top reefer lanes have been hard to predict, with lots of changes from week to week:

  • Fresno-Denver added 27 cents for an average of $2.27 per mile
  • Miami-Northern New Jersey added 35 cents for $1.44 per mile
  • Green Bay-Minneapolis rose 36 cents to $2.24 per mile
  • Miami-Baltimore was down 29 cents to $1.36 per mile
  • Los Angeles-Denver dipped 18 cents to $2.38 per mile
  • Ontario-Phoenix rose 7 cents to $3.10 mile

Flatbed load posts declined 1% last week as truck posts increased less than 1%, causing the load-to-truck ratio to decline. The flatbed load-to-truck ratio has been trending higher since August, which is usually an indication higher rates are on the way, but so far that has yet to happen.

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