TransCore's North American Freight Index was up 5% in January compared to the same month in 2011. This is the third consecutive year of increases in same-month spot market freight volume and marks a record high for the month of January.

Compared to December 2011, spot market freight volume slipped 8% in January. It is typical for spot market freight volume to decline seasonally in January, but this year's dip was shallower than the 10-year average of 14%.

Truckload freight rates increased year-over-year on the spot market for vans and flatbeds, while declining slightly for reefer vans. Compared to December, however, rates slipped seasonally for all three equipment types.

For dry vans, the predominant equipment type, rates rose 7.3% compared to January 2011, and slipped 1.5% compared to December. Flatbed rates increased 4.5% compared to the same month in 2011, but declined 2.4% in the most recent 31 days. Reefer van rates declined 0.7% year-over-year and 6.5% month-over-month. These rates do not include fuel surcharges.

For March, the best combination of relatively high freight volume and a favorable ratio of outbound loads are expected to emerge in Illinois, Georgia, Indiana, New York and Alabama.