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071119 RTOW-Bars-7-6-2019.png Photo: DAT Solutions

Spot rates start July with a bang

National average spot van and refrigerated freight rates shot higher last week as shippers looked for carriers to move freight during a holiday-shortened week, said DAT Solutions, which operates the industry’s largest network of load boards.

Load-posting volume on the DAT network fell 45% compared to the previous week as many businesses reduced their schedules due to the Fourth of July holiday.

National average spot rates through July 6:

  • Van: $1.91/mile, 2 cents higher than the June average and 12 cents higher than May
  • Reefer: $2.28/mile, 4 cents higher than June
  • Flatbed: $2.30/mile, unchanged from June

Van trends: The van load-to-truck ratio fell from 3.2 to 2.0, more than a point below the June average of 3.1 loads posted for every truck. Still, spot rates were higher on 52 of the top 100 van lanes.

Where rates are rising: Chicago and Columbus, Ohio, two major markets in the Midwest, improved:

  • Chicago: $2.20/mile, up 4 cents
  • Columbus: $2.22/mile, up 5 cents

The average outbound rate from Houston was down 3 cents to $1.76/mile, continuing a trend of weaker outbound rates, likely because of a slowing oil market in Texas. One bright spot: Dallas to Houston increased 14 cents to $2.51/mile.

Reefer trends: The holiday helped send the national average reefer load-to-truck ratio from 5.5 to 3.5. Of DAT’s top 72 reefer lanes by volume, rates were higher on 46 and declined on 23. Three lanes were neutral.

Where rates are rising: Rates rose on higher volumes in California’s four major reefer markets:

  • Fresno: $2.52/mile, up 3 cents
  • Los Angeles: $3.06/mile, up 9 cents
  • Ontario, $2.80/mile, up 5 cents
  • Sacramento, $2.83/mile, up 6 cents

There was more good news in the Midwest as the average outbound rate from Grand Rapids, Mich., increased 17 cents to $2.73/mile. Grand Rapids to Cleveland surged 44 cents to $3.87/mile and Grand Rapids-Atlanta gained 32 cents to $2.23/mile. It’s too early for Michigan apples, but asparagus, blackberries, peaches, potatoes, and strawberries appear ready to move.

DAT Trendlines is a weekly snapshot of month-to-date national average rates from DAT RateView, which provides real-time reports on spot market and contract rates, as well as historical rate and capacity trends. The RateView database is comprised of more than $60 billion in freight payments. DAT load boards average 1.2 million load posts searched per business day.

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