Spot freight was up only slightly in October from the previous month and fell year-over-year, according to the DAT North American Freight Index.

Based on an analysis of more than 68 million loads and trucks listed per year across TransCores DAT Network of Load Boards, the Freight Index shows a 0.8% increase in spot market freight availability in the U.S. and Canada for October over September. After a strong first two weeks, softness in U.S. freight availability at the end of the month was partly offset by volume growth in Canada.

Year-over-year, North American freight volume on the spot market declined 4%.

Over the past decade, DAT notes, comparative freight volumes from September to October have been mixed, increasing in five years and declining in the other five. The 10-year average was a month-over-month increase of 3.9%, putting 2012 well below average.

On DAT Load Boards in the U.S. only, van load volumes slipped 1.1%, refrigerated (reefer) freight dipped 5.5% and flatbed loads declined 5% compared to September. Year-over-year, van freight volume increased 3.5%, reefer freight dipped 1.5% and there were 20% fewer flatbed loads.

Truckload freight rates for all three equipment types continued the seasonal decline that began in July on the spot market, although reefer rates were up slightly compared to October 2011.

Van rates dipped 0.8% month-over-month and 3% year-over-year. Reefer rates slid 3.1% for the month but rose 1.9% when compared to the same month last year. Rates for flatbeds declined 2.9% compared to September and 1.2% versus October 2011.

Rates are derived from the DAT Truckload Rate Index, and do not include fuel surcharges, which rose in September on both a month-over-month and year-over-year basis. Spot market rates are paid by brokers and 3PLs to the carrier.

Looking ahead to December, high load volumes and a favorable ratio of outbound loads are likely to be found in the Midwestern states of Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan. In the Southeast, the same factors favor outbound trucks in North Carolina, Georgia and Alabama.