Graphic: DAT

Graphic: DAT

Rates on the spot freight market increased in all three major categories for the first time in weeks, according to the freight matching service provider DAT Solutions.

The national average van rate picked 0.5% for $1.88 per mile for the week ending Feb. 28 compared to the previous week. The hike was in the linehaul portion of the rate while the fuel surcharge was unchanged.

DAT says this gain was due to the strength of several key van markets. Memphis increased 12 cents to $2.30 per mile; Columbus, Ohio, jumped 3 cents to $2.15 per mile; Dallas was up 6 cents to $1.76 per mile; and Buffalo rose 4 cents to $2.22 per mile. Outbound van rates from Los Angeles rose 4 cents per mile to $1.92 as the dockworkers and West Coast port operators reached a tentative labor agreement.

The national average flatbed and reefer rates each rose 0.5% to $2.13 and $2.11 per mile, respectively, due to higher fuel surcharges on outbound freight.

The rate increases happened as freight availability on the spot truckload market rebounded 14% and capacity dipped 0.8%

Van freight availability on DAT load boards increased another 19% last week while capacity fell only 0.8% compared to the previous week. That pushed the load-to-truck ratio up 19.5%, meaning there were 3.2 van loads posted for every available van trailer.

Reefer freight availability rose 18% last week and capacity declined 2.9%, which boosted the reefer load-to-truck ratio by 21% from 7.9 to 9.5. Flatbed load availability increased 10% while capacity added 1%, causing the flatbed load-to-truck ratio to recover 9% from 11.4 to 12.4.

Meantime, initial numbers show freight rates were down in all three sectors in February compared to January. The biggest loser was reefers, declining an average of 5.4%, followed by flatbeds giving up 3.6% and vans shedding 3.1%.

Rates were also down last month compared to February 2014, with van’s showing the biggest decline, 5.1%, followed by a 3.7% dip for reefers and a 3.2% drop for flatbeds.

Likewise, load-to-truck ratios fell between 6.6% and 15% in the three sectors last month versus January, while all were down a little more than 50% when February is compared to the same time a year earlier.