spot truckload rate four weeks 090118

Spot freight market tightens as capacity improves

National average spot rates softened but continue to trend nearly 20% higher compared to this time last year.

Shippers posted 3% fewer spot market loads while available capacity improved 5% during the week ending Sept. 1, according to DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards.

National average spot rates softened but continue to trend nearly 20% higher compared to this time last year. The average van rate fell 1 cent to $2.14/mile, the flatbed rate declined 2 cents to $2.64/mile, and the refrigerated rate was unchanged at $2.49/mile week over week.

Van trends: The number of van load posts on DAT load boards fell 1% while truck posts increased 5%, sending the national van load-to-truck ratio down to 6.7 loads per truck. While most markets showed little change, rates increased on several key regional lanes:

  • Seattle to Spokane, Wash.: $3.71/mile, up 4 cents
  • Columbus, Ohio, to Buffalo: $3.87/mile, up 1 cent
  • Dallas to Houston: $2.60/mile, down 1 cents

Reefer trends: Reefer load posts on DAT load boards increased 2% last week while truck posts increased 6%. That caused the load-to-truck ratio to decline 4%, to 9.2 loads per truck.

Nuts, onions, and potatoes are contributing to high load-to-truck ratios in Oregon and eastern Washington. In the Midwest, the average outbound reefer rate in Chicago was up 18 cents to $3.37/mile last week and has risen 12% in the past month.

Flatbed trends: The national flatbed load-to-truck ratio fell 10% to 25.3 loads per truck, resuming a downward trend after rising the previous week. 

Oil and gas activity is having an impact. Drilling in the Permian Basin has slowed and demand for trucks has cooled out of Houston ($2.99/mile, down 2 cents), the largest flatbed market in the country and the top market supplying Midland and surrounding counties. 

Regional van markets like Dallas and Memphis — which send freight to Houston — seem to be impacted by the slowdown in oil drilling as well.

DAT Trendlines is generated using DAT RateView, an innovative service that provides real-time reports on prevailing spot market and contract rates, as well as historical rate and capacity trends. 

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