DAT SOLUTIONS: Spot market shows signs of a rebound

Special to Land Line | 11/8/2018

Surging imports at West Coast ports helped push load-to-truck ratios on DAT MembersEdge higher last week, and there are signs that spot rates are ready to rebound.

Load posts increased 3.4 percent while truck posts declined 2.8 percent for a national load-to-truck ratio of 6.9 loads per truck. With tighter capacity and the holidays around the corner, we could see prices move up soon. However, national averages for reefer and flatbed freight continued to drift lower.

Let's look at the Trendlines.

Ratios rising
The national average van load-to-truck ratio jumped 10 percent last week to 5.2 loads per truck, while the reefer ratio was up 11 percent to 6.8. More loads and fewer trucks – that's a good combination for truckers. 

Touching down
Have van and reefer rates hit a low? The national average spot van rate was $2.09 per mile, down 1 cent compared to the previous week, and the reefer rate was $2.41 per mile, down 3 cents.

Traffic management
While the number of available trucks fell 2.8 percent last week, capacity is up. In October, there were 25 percent more trucks on DAT load boards compared to September, and 37 percent more compared to October 2017.

Van trends
The number of van load posts jumped up 7 percent while truck posts dropped 4 percent last week. Rates were higher on 39 of the top 100 van lanes; 56 lanes were lower and five were neutral.

L.A. drives demand
Los Angeles ($2.66 per mile average, up 7 cents) is hot for van freight. The load-to-truck ratio was 12.2 last Friday and rates on two outbound lanes were especially strong: L.A. to Dallas ($2.51 per mile) and L.A. to Denver ($3.21 per mile) were both up 14 cents compared to the previous week.

Betting on Texas
Dallas and Houston continue to be extremely slow. Over all, the state has a load to truck ratio of 3.1 – basically stuck in neutral.

Falling van lanes
Several key Eastern U.S. van lanes declined:

  • Philadelphia to Boston (down 16 cents to $3.72 per mile).
  • Buffalo to Allentown (down 14 cents to $3.25 per mile).
  • Columbus to Memphis (down 13 cents to $1.85 per mile).

Reefer loads up 6 percent
Reefer load posts rose 6 percent while truck posts fell 4 percent. We're on the cusp of heavier demand with the holidays ahead.

Soaking up capacity
Reefer volumes in Southern California and the Upper Midwest should start to tie up capacity and tighten markets nationwide. Fresno, Sacramento and Green Bay saw higher outbound rates last week, although those markets should start to fade. Import activity also is growing in Florida and southwest Texas.

More up than down: In the top 70 reefer lanes last week, 40 lanes had higher rates and 30 lanes slipped lower. McAllen, Texas ($2.17 per mile, up 3 cents), Los Angeles ($3.05 per mile, unchanged), and Chicago ($2.98 per mile, down 1 cent) were slightly higher while Grand Rapids ($3.37 per mile, down 10 cents), Philadelphia ($3.01 per mile, down 9 cents), and Elizabeth, N.J. ($2.22 per mile, down 4 cents) were down.

In for the long haul: Twin Falls, Idaho, to Baltimore gained 21 cents $2.54 per mile, an indicator of long-haul reefer rates.

Flatbed trends
Flatbed activity slowed last week, typical of this time of year. Load posts fell by 4 percent while truck posts decreased 3 percent. The national average flatbed rate was down 2 cents to $2.45 per mile.

Fuel dips
The price of diesel fell 1 cent to $3.34 per gallon compared to the previous week. Spot rates include a fuel surcharge portion and are affected by the price of diesel.

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 per industry-trends per 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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