Spot Rates Decline Slightly as Truckload Capacity Returns

January 16, 2018

By Evan Lockridge

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National average spot truckload rates declined as the number of available trucks jumped 52% during the week ending Jan. 13, according to DAT Solutions and its network of load boards, however van, refrigerated, and flatbed freight rates remain higher than at any point in 2017.

The number of available loads posted was up 17%, a sign that freight patterns have normalized after two weeks of holidays, disruptive weather, and more rigid schedules imposed by the use of electronic logging devices.

Load-to-truck ratios for all three equipment types edged down from record highs seen the previous week:

  • Van ratio: 10.7 to 1, down from 14.7
  • Flatbed ratio: 53.7 to 1, down from 63.5
  • Reefer ratio: 18.4 to 1, down from 25.2

The number of van load posts increased 12% and truck posts surged 54%. The national average spot van rate dipped 2 cents to $2.28 per mile, still a high rate. Outbound rates from many major markets held firm when compared to the previous week:

  • Atlanta, $2.44 per mile, down 2 cents
  • Houston, $1.99 per mile, down 1 cent
  • Philadelphia, $2.29 per mile, up 1 cent
  • Chicago, $3.00 per mile, up 1 cent

Notable exceptions were Buffalo, up 21 cents to $2.98 per mile, building on a 5 cents increase the previous week; Los Angeles, $2.71 per mile, down 16 cents; and Charlotte, $2.64 per mile, up 10 cents.

Demand for refrigerated trailers remains solid, with load posts up 6%. Truck posts were up 46% compared to the previous week, which helped send the national average reefer rate down a penny to $2.70 per mile. Volumes are down seasonally, a sign that reefer rates may have crested as we move deeper into a post-holiday period, according to DAT

The national average flatbed rate slipped 1 cent to $2.42 per mile to start the year. Flatbed load posts increased 35% after a 46% increase the previous week, and truck posts increased 60%.

The national average price of on-highway diesel fuel was unchanged at $3.00 per gallon. Spot truckload freight rates include a fuel surcharge portion.



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