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Spot Freight Rates, Still High, Slide Again

| August 16, 2018

truck/s at loading bay

The national average van rate fell 6 cents to $2.18/mile during the week ending Aug. 11, marking five straight weeks of declines after one of the most robust periods for spot truckload freight pricing in memory. 

Likewise, the national flatbed rate dipped 6 cents to $2.69/mile and the reefer rate slipped 3 cents to $2.51/mile  compared to the previous week.

Rates remain roughly 20% higher compared to this time of year, however. 

The number of load posts on the DAT network of load boards edged down 5% last week while truck posts rose 3%. With more trucks competing for fewer loads, load-to-truck ratios softened for all three equipment types:

– Van ratio: 6.9 loads per truck, down 3% compared to the previous week
– Reefer ratio: 8.5, down 5%
– Flatbed ratio: 29.5, down 19% to near where it was at this time a year ago

VAN TRENDS: Spot market volumes declined 1% last week compared to the week before, while truck posts increased 2%. Prices were down in most markets but rates held up the best out of the Midwest and in fact rose on a handful of regional lanes:

– Columbus, Ohio, to Buffalo, N.Y.: $3.77/mile, up 23 cents
– Buffalo to Allentown, Pennsylvania: $3.46/mile, up 11 cents
– Chicago to Los Angeles: $1.54/mile, up 9 cents

Outbound rates in Dallas and Houston have fallen more than 10% in the past month and currently sit at $2.00/mile and $2.10/mile, respectively. Pipeline capacity is tight in the West Texas oilfields, leading to a slowdown in drilling, and steel tariffs have made new projects more expensive, since it’s not easy to source domestically, depending on the type of project.

REEFER TRENDS: Reefer demand has been cooling down since its peak in June. The number of load posts on DAT load boards was down 3% last week, while truck posts increased 3%. The national reefer load-to-truck ratio is now below where it was at this time a year.

One factor: shipments out of California have stalled, perhaps hampered by wildfires, and as a result these volumes weren’t there to offset declines in other parts of the country. Two lanes out of California showed significant declines:

– Fresno to Seattle dropped 24 cents to $3.41/mile
– Sacramento to Portland, Oregon, was down 21 cents but still averaged $3.90/mile

Melon shipments did bolster load counts from McAllen, Texas. Apple season also boosted volumes out of the Midwest.

Category: General Update, News

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