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Truckload spot rates stay at two-year high

Sept. 21, 2017
That’s partly due to the ongoing impact of hurricanes Harvey and Irma on U.S. supply chains, according to load board operator DAT Solutions.

The number of available loads on the TL spot market increased 27% during the week ending Sept. 16, according to data tracked by DAT Solutions.

While a 20% to 25% week-over-week increase in loads is not unexpected for the first full work-week after a holiday (in this case Labor Day), the number of available trucks increased just 19% at a time when capacity is already tight.

As a result, national average spot TL rates remain at two-year highs, DAT said:

  • Dry Van: $1.93 per mile, unchanged
  • Flatbed: $2.24 per mile, unchanged
  • Refrigerated: $2.18 per mile, up a penny

Load-to-truck or “LT” ratios on the spot market are elevated as well:

  • Dry Van L/T ratio: 6.6
  • Flatbed L/T ratio: 41.1
  • Refrigerated L/T ratio: 11.9

Nationally, dry van load posts and truck posts both increased 20% while the number of reefer load posts gained 18% and capacity increased 12%, DAT noted.

The most substantial increase was in the flatbed segment, where the number of load posts jumped up 41% and truck posts increased 19%. At 41.1, the flatbed load-to-truck ratio is the highest since peak season in April, the firm added.

Regionally, supply chains are adjusting to the aftermath of two major storms. In Florida, dry van freight volumes increased on lanes from Atlanta and Charlotte, as did average van rates:

  • Atlanta-Lakeland, up 70 cents to $3.65 per mile
  • Atlanta-Miami, up 54 cents to $3.19 per mile
  • Charlotte-Lakeland, up 42 cents to $3.32 per mile

Chicago and Columbus outbound dry van rates are up 14% and 15% in the past month, respectively, since the Midwest hubs have been in position to facilitate rerouted freight from both Harvey and Irma.

Rates fell on only 35 of the top 100 van lanes, mostly in Texas, where pricing continues to normalize after hitting historic highs following Hurricane Harvey. Dallas-Houston fell 54 cents but is still high at $2.96/mile.

The spot refrigerated or “reefer” market for Florida freight reflected similar trends: Atlanta-Miami, for instance, jumped 68 cents to $3.34/mile last week, and Atlanta-Lakeland added 52 cents at $3.89/mile.

Finally, diesel prices took a welcome one-cent step back to a national average of $2.79 per gallon, DAT noted.

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