Despite van and reefer load availability increasing for the third consecutive week on the spot market, national average rates in the three major trucking sectors continued moving lower last week as equipment availability rose.

New figures released by DAT Solutions show from Aug. 9-15 the total number of loads posted on DAT load boards rose 2.5% compared to the previous week, nearly matching the 2.6% increase in the number of equipment posts.

A balance of available loads and capacity generally means little movement on rates, said DAT. Accordingly, the national average van rate dropped 1.1% to $1.77 per mile as the van load-to-truck ratio fell 1.2%, meaning there were 1.8 available van loads for every truck posted on the DAT network.

Key markets saw declines in average outbound fan rates, including Los Angeles, down 5 cents to $2.02 per mile; Chicago, off 3 cents to $1.96; Dallas, down 3 cents to $1.70; and Atlanta, off 5 cents to $1.79.

In the reefer market, the national average spot truckload rate dipped 0.5% to $2.04 per mile. Load volume increased 2% but lagged behind a 4.5% jump in equipment availability, which helped send the reefer load-to-truck ratio down 2.4% to 4.5 loads per truck.

Flatbed load availability recovered 3.7% last week and capacity declined 1%, pushing the flatbed load-to-truck ratio up 4.8% to 12.8 loads per truck. The national average rate for flatbeds dropped 3.7% to $2.07 per mile compared to the previous week, including a 1-cent drop in the fuel surcharge.

The national average price of diesel was unchanged at $2.62 per gallon. All reported rates include fuel surcharges.

Rates in all three of these sectors are also the lowest out of the past four weeks.

Typically, demand goes up and rates follow, but that's not what has been happening lately. DAT Market Analyst Peggy Dorf says it could be a timing issue, a regional transition could be in progress, and that falling fuel prices put downward pressure on rates. You can read more about what she has to say on this in the DAT blog.