Freight activity and rates on the spot market remained elevated last week after a surge of freight following winter storms the week before, according to the freight matching service provider DAT.

Click on graphic to enlarge.

Click on graphic to enlarge.

Overall load availability increased 3.2% Jan. 12 through Jan. 18 compared to the previous seven days, while capacity increased 27%.

The results are a 0.5% increase in average van rates to $1.95 per mile, after taking a slight dip the week before, while reefer rates gained twice as much, adding 1% to $2.12 per mile. In contrast, flatbed rates continued falling for the second consecutive week, losing 1.4% from a week earlier and coming in at $2.07 per mile. Two weeks ago the rate was $2.17 per mile.

Van rates remain at an unseasonably high level, says DAT, a full 22 cents higher than the average in January 2013, while the reefer rate is 10 cents higher than the average during the same time frame. The drop in flatbed rates came despite an increase in demand for flatbed trucks.

Load-to-truck ratios in all three major categories fell between just below 17% and a little more than 19% week-to-week.

Writing in the DAT Freight Talk Blog a few days ago, Analyst Mark Montague described the spot market recently as “unusual” saying "the trucking industry is in the midst of a sort of perfect storm," with volume and rates buoyed by three main factors: extreme weather, economic growth and inventory management.

You can read his blog on the DAT website.