DAT Solutions: Spot van, reefer rates dip, but for how long?

Special to Land Line | 12/21/2017

Ready for that slow, steady rate decline from now until March? Well, national average spot rates for van and reefer freight on DAT MembersEdge did indeed decline during the week ending Dec. 16, but the number of available loads was up 2.4 percent and capacity tightened 7.5 percent.

Who knows where that capacity figure will end up with the ELD mandate in force? Looking at our Hot Market Map of reefer load-to-truck ratios from Tuesday, Dec. 19, it’s safe to say that the regulation has led to tighter reefer capacity this week. Load-to-truck ratios are up across the board, and they’re poised to climb again as truckers take a little time off at the end of the year.

DAT Hot Market Map

Load-to-truck ratios climb

  • Van: 7.8 available loads per truck, up from 7.2
  • Refrigerated: 11, up from 9.8 loads per truck
  • Flatbed: 31.7, up from 27.9 loads per truck

Van rate falls from a high: As a national average, the van rate fell 2 cents to $2.08/mile after hitting a three-year high during the previous week. It’s typical for van rates to decline from December through March but concerns about capacity in the wake of the ELD mandate may change seasonal rate trends. 

But it may pick up: Spot van load posts slipped 1 percent while truck posts fell 7 percent last week. Tighter capacity caused the van load-to-truck ratio to increase 9 percent.

Major markets down: Rates in most of the major van markets were down last week, including Atlanta ($2.22/mile, down 3 cents), Memphis ($2.37/mile, down 3 cents), Los Angeles ($2.66/mile, down 10 cents), and Chicago ($2.63/mile, down 8 cents). The biggest lane-rate increase was from Columbus to Buffalo, which was up 31 cents to an average of $3.37/mile. That’s likely retail freight moving between two distribution hubs.

Reefers cool: The national average spot reefer rate fell 4 cents to $2.36/mile. Load posts increased 3 percent and truck posts decreased 7 percent compared to the previous week.

Loose capacity, lower rates – for now: A decline in long-haul traffic loosened truckload capacity on the top 75 reefer lanes and pushed average outbound rates lower in most places, although prices remain elevated for December. Examples:

  • Green Bay, $3.49/mile, down 15 cents
  • Chicago, $3.03/mile, down 4 cents
  • Philadelphia, $2.84/mile, 5 cents lower
  • Elizabeth, N.J., $1.99/mile, down 6 cents
  • Los Angeles, $2.94/mile, down 4 cents

Flatbed rate rises: The national average flatbed rate increased 1 cent for the third week in a row, moving to $2.32/mile. Flatbed prices are high for this time of year, and last week’s rate is just 2 cents lower than the peak in October.

Diesel down: The price of on-highway diesel fuel fell a penny to $2.90/gallon. Prices remain nearly 50 cents higher than this time last year. Spot truckload freight rates include a fuel surcharge portion.

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.

For the latest spot market load availability and rate information, visit the MyMembersEdge.com load board or tune in to Land Line Now. You can get all of the latest rate information at dat.com/industry-trends/trendlines, comment on the DAT Freight Talk blog, or join us on Facebook. On Twitter you can tweet your questions to us @LoadBoards and have your questions answered by DAT industry analyst Mark Montague.



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