Spot market trends were mixed during the week ending March 21 as load availability decreased and capacity edged upward, according to DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards.
Overall load availability fell 3.9% versus a 6.6% gain in posted capacity.
Still, flatbed season picked up as load availability added 7.7% while capacity edged down 2.4%. The flatbed load-to-truck ratio increased from 14.8 to 16.4, meaning there were 16.4 available loads for every available flatbed truck.
The national average flatbed rate rose 3 cents to a national average of $2.18 per mile, buoyed by markets like Jacksonville, FL, up 20 cents to $2.86 per mile, and Houston, up 1 cent to an average of $2.25 per mile. The average Houston-Bismarck, N.D., lane rate climbed 40 cents to $2.59 per mile ,DAT reported.
The number of refrigerated loads dropped 11% and available capacity increased 9.8%, which sent the load-to-truck ratio down from 9.6 to 7.8. The national average spot rate for reefer freight dipped 1 cent to $2.15 per mile due to a decline in the average fuel surcharge.
The national average spot rate for van loads was unchanged for the third straight week at $1.94 per mile. Van freight availability slipped 9.1% while available van capacity was up 8.3% resulting in a 2.9 van load-to-truck ratio, down from 3.5. Demand may rebound as the end of the quarter approaches.
Load-to-truck ratios represent the number of loads posted for every truck available on DAT load boards. The load-to-truck ratio is a sensitive, real-time indicator of the balance between spot market demand and capacity, DAT says. Changes in the ratio often signal impending changes in rates.
Rates are derived from DAT RateView, which provides real-time reports on prevailing spot market and contract rates, as well as historical rate and capacity trends. For complete national and regional reports on spot rates and demand, visit dat.com/Trendlines.
DAT Trendlines is a weekly report on spot market freight availability, truck capacity, and rates.