Spot Load Posts, Capacity Hold Firm as Rates Continue Decline

February 15, 2018

By Evan Lockridge

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Spot market truckload freight rates continued moving lower for the week ending Feb. 10, according to load board operator DAT Solutions, despite a slight increase in available freight and a drop in truck capacity.

It reported the number of loads increased 0.3% from the previous week while truck posts dipped 1.5% as load-to-truck ratios declined marginally.

The national average van rate fell 6 cents to $2.17 per mile and reefers tumbled 9 cents to $2.50 mile compared to the previous week. This also is compared to $2.27 per mile for vans and $2.70 per mile for reefers just three weeks earlier. All reported rates include fuel surcharges.

Despite the drop in prices, the national average van rate is still 33% higher than at this point a year ago. The number of van loads posted was unchanged while truck posts declined 3%. That caused the load-to-truck ratio to increase from 6.9 to 1 to 7.1 to 1. Key outbound van markets include:

  • Chicago, $2.70 per mile, down 8 cents
  • Buffalo, $2.78 per mile, down 18 cents
  • Philadelphia, $2.15 per mile, down 4 cents
  • Houston, $1.97 per mile, down 2 cents
  • Dallas, $1.92 per mile, down 3 cents
  • Charlotte, $2.50 per mile, up 3 cents
  • Los Angeles, $2.20 per mile down 10 cents following a 9-cent decline the previous week

Reefer load posts fell 2% and the number of truck posts was unchanged, which caused the load-to-truck ratio to fall 2% from 10.2 to 1 to 10 to 1. The national average reefer rate was the lowest average of 2018 but still higher than the peak reefer rates from 2017.

After four straight weeks of declines, the national average flatbed rate inched up 2 cents to $2.28 per mile, a sign that flatbed rates may have hit bottom. This compares to $2.40 per mile three week earlier. Better weather typically causes demand to pick up for flatbeds, a key mode for construction materials and equipment, according to DAT.

Overall, freight volumes for February are slightly lower compared to 2017. That loss can be attributed to competition from the railroads, according to DAT, as overall shipments are up slightly year-over-year but more shippers seem to have shifted freight to rail intermodal.

Intermodal shipments were up 6% in the last week of January compared to the same period last year. Also, the recent decline in rates is in sharp contrast to January when rates set new record highs, according to figures the company released a couple of days earlier. 

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