The number of posted loads on the spot market jumped 5.7% for week ending Oct. 3, as shippers rushed to move inventory before the end of the quarter, while available truck capacity fell 4.5%, but the changes were not enough to advance rates.

New figures from DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards, show the national average truckload van spot market rate dipped 1 cent to $1.74 per mile because of a decline in the average fuel surcharge. However, line-haul prices actually rose outbound from Los Angeles, Dallas and other key markets.

Van load availability rose 11% while truck capacity fell 2.9% compared to the previous week. The resulting national van load-to-truck ratio increased 14.3%, meaning there were 2.0 available van loads for every truck posted on the DAT network.

Flatbed load availability rose 3.1% and truck posts were down 7.9%, pushing the load-to-truck ratio for flatbeds up 12% to 11.5 loads per truck. The national average flatbed rate was unchanged at $2.03 per mile, the same three out of the past four weeks.

Refrigerated load volume increased by 2.7% and available truck capacity fell 5.5%. As a result, the national reefer load-to-truck ratio increased 8.7% from 4.3 to 4.6 loads per truck. The national average reefer rate was unchanged at $2.01 per mile.

The national average price of diesel increased 1 cent to $2.49 per gallon last week. All reported rates include fuel surcharges.

The load-to-truck ratio is a sensitive, real-time indicator of the balance between spot market demand and capacity. Changes in the ratio often signal impending changes in rates, according to DAT.

Despite these steady or lackluster freight rates, depending on how you look at the situation, there are some places that are no doubt better than others to find loads. A few days ago, DAT compiled a list of the five best places to find one fast when it comes to van freight, including in Los Angels, which at the time had an outbound load-to-truck ratio of 3.1 to 1. You can read more about this in the DAT blog.