Spot freight rates, left to right, for vans, flatbeds and reefers, the past four weeks. Graphic: DAT Solutions

Spot freight rates, left to right, for vans, flatbeds and reefers, the past four weeks. Graphic: DAT Solutions

Activity and rates on the spot freight market picked up slightly as 2014 ended and the New Year began, according to the freight matching service provider DAT Solutions.

The number of available loads increased 0.8% Dec. 28 through Jan 3 compared to the previous seven days while truck capacity fell 22%.

The result was 0.8% gain in reefer rates for an average of $2.38 per mile, its best showing out of the last four weeks, while flatbeds added 0.4% for an average of $2.13, close to where its been over nearly the past month.

Rates for vans continued its slightly downward trend, falling 0.5% from the week before to $2.07 per mile, its lowest level out of the previous four weeks. DAT said this also happened as the van load-to-truck ratio increased 30% to an atypically high 4.3 loads per truck.

The reefer load-to-truck ratio gained even more, 37%, to 13.9 loads per truck, while the flatbed load-to-truck ratio improved 24% to 22.9 loads per truck, as more truckers than brokers appeared to take the week off, according to DAT.

Meantime, initial numbers show there were healthy increases in spot freight rates in December compared to the same time in 2013, but showed little if any improvement from November’s levels.

Reefers increased 14% last month compared to the same time a year earlier, followed by vans adding 7.2% and flatbeds gaining 5.5%.

When December rates are compared to November, the only increase was in the van sector, 1.5%, while flatbed and reefers fell 0.9% and 0.4%, respectively.

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