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Spot market off to strong start in 2017

Spot market off to strong start in 2017

Strong freight volumes to start the year combined with higher fuel prices and winter weather has propelled spot truckload rates generally upward, reported DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards.

The total number of posted loads increased 17% while available capacity was up 9.5% during the week ending Jan. 7. Tighter capacity pushed van and flatbed load-to-truck ratios higher while the refrigerated freight ratio dipped:

  • Van L/T: 4.9 van loads per truck, up 10%
  • Flatbed L/T: 28.6 (up 7%)
  • Reefer L/T: 10.7 (down 4%)

National average spot reefer and van rates both made gains:

  • Reefers: $2.03/mile, up 5 cents to an unseasonable high 
  • Vans: $1.77/mile, up 4 cents

The average flatbed rate fell 3 cents to $1.92/mile.

Van Activity Up: Van activity picked up gradually in the week following the holidays. Van load posts were up 20% compared to the previous week and truck posts increased 9%. But rates fell sharply in many key markets especially in the Midwest and West. In some markets, winter weather made freight difficult to move:

  • Los Angeles, $2.08/mile, down 8 cents
  • Chicago, $2.12/mile, down 11 cents
  • Houston, $1.57/mile, down 2 cents
  • Atlanta, $1.96/mile, down 3 cents
  • Philadelphia, $1.75/mile, down 3 cents

Reefer Demand Falls: Demand for reefer trucks slipped compared to the boom week between Christmas and New Year's but the load-to-truck ratio remained unseasonably high. Spot market load posts increased 3% but truck posts rose 7%. Volume kept climbing in Nogales, Ariz., with Mexican produce crossing the border, and load counts also started the year strong in Philadelphia, a big market for produce imports from Europe.

Average rates on several lanes declined last week:

  • Chicago-Denver, $2.11/mile, down 86 cents
  • Dallas-Phoenix, $1.30/mile, down 42 cents
  • Miami-Baltimore fell to pre-Christmas levels at $1.72/mile
  • Elizabeth, N.J.-Boston came back down 38 cents to $3.50/mile: still high but traffic and weather make travel difficult on that lane, plus there’s not much freight coming out of Boston.

Flatbed Gains Ground: Flatbed load posts increased 26% and truck posts increased 18% last week. That pushed the load-to-truck ratio up to 28.6, the highest weekly flatbed ratio since September 2014.

Fuel Increases Again: Spot TL rates include a fuel surcharge. The national average price of on-highway diesel gained a penny to $2.60/gallon.

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. All reported rates include fuel surcharges.

Get the latest rate trends at

TAGS: News
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