DAT: Spot TL van, reefer rates stay near peak levels

The availability of spot truckload freight slipped 1.6% and the number of posted trucks rebounded 7.6% during the week ending Nov. 11, reported DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards. 

National average spot van and reefer rates are hovering at or near peak levels due to higher fuel surcharges and strong demand for truckload capacity leading into the holiday shopping season. The general trend is for higher rates on eastbound lanes, with more demand for deliveries into the population centers in the Northeast.

National average spot truckload rates: 

  • Van: $2.06/mile, down 1 cent compared to the previous week
  • Flatbed: $2.30/mile, up 1 cent
  • Reefer: $2.37/mile, unchanged

The number of posted van loads was up 1% after a 7% jump last week. The number of available trucks increased 8%, which led the van load-to-truck ratio downward from 6.3 to 5.9 van loads per truck. The van load-to-truck ratio is still twice as high as the same period a year ago.

Spot van rates moderated or remain elevated in key markets across the country compared to the previous week:

  •  Los Angeles, $2.58/mile, up 9 cents
  • Chicago, $3.33/mile, unchanged after jumping 14 cents the previous week
  • Memphis, $2.32/mile, up 1 cent
  • Atlanta, $2.21/mile, down 3 cents
  • Dallas, $1.76/mile, down 3 cents
  • Houston, $1.70/mile, unchanged

One harbinger of that west-to-east freight flow: the average Los Angeles-Chicago spot rate climbed 11 cents to $1.81/mile—not exceptionally high, but still strong rate considering that this is a busy and competitive intermodal lane.

In the spot reefer market, the number of load posts increased 4% to build on an 18% jump the previous week. The reefer load-to-truck ratio dipped slightly from 11.8 to 11.5 loads per truck as available capacity was up 7%.

Pricing in several stalwart reefer markets was strong—McAllen, Texas, added 4 cents to $2.00/mile and Green Bay was up 15 cents to $3.84/mile—rates elsewhere cooled. The average outbound rate from Chicago retreated 5 cents to $3.26/mile after a 14-cent pickup the previous week; Elizabeth, N.J., fell 22 cents to $1.98/mile; and Lakeland, Fla., decreased 4 cents to $1.26/mile.

After hitting 50.2 loads per truck at the end of September, the ratio is easing off: last week flatbed load posts declined 9% and truck posts increased 7% to push the load-to-truck ratio down 15% to 29.0. That’s still high for the season.

All reported spot rates include fuel surcharges. The national average price of on-highway diesel added 4 cents to $2.92/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. RateView's comprehensive database is comprised of more than $33 billion in freight bills in over 65,000 lanes. For the latest spot market load availability and rate information, visit dat.com/industry-trends/trendlines and join the conversation on Twitter with @LoadBoards.

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