DAT Solutions: Competition, capacity keep spot van markets cool

February 15, 2018

Special to Land Line


Spot market rates continue to decline seasonally, as volumes for February are slightly lower compared to 2017. That loss can be attributed to competition from the railroads, as intermodal shipments are up slightly year over year.

That extra competition has helped push truckload rates lower.

On DAT MembersEdge, the national average van rate fell six cents to $2.17 per mile and reefers tumbled 9 cents to $2.50 per mile during the week ending Feb. 10.

Despite the drop in prices, the national average van rate is still 33 percent higher than at this point a year ago. So far, freight trends in February suggests that spot market capacity shortfalls as a result of the ELD mandate have had a stronger impact than economic conditions on van rates.

Loads, capacity hold firm
The number of loads on the spot truckload freight market increased 0.3 percent and truck posts dipped 1.5 percent compared to the previous week.

Van trends
The number of van loads posted declined was unchanged while truck posts declined 3 percent. That caused the load-to-truck ratio to increase from 6.9 to 7.1 loads per truck.

Markets fall
With the exception of Charlotte ($2.50 per mile, up three cents), most outbound van markets were down last week:

  • Buffalo, N.Y. – $2.78 per mile, down 18 cents
  • Philadelphia – $2.15 per mile, down 4 cents
  • Houston – $1.97 per mile, down 2 cents
  • Dallas – $1.92 per mile, down 3 cents
  • Chicago – $2.70 per mile, down 8 cents

Deep dish on Chicago
The three lanes with the biggest increases all involved Chicago, one outbound and two inbound:

  • Chicago-Denver rose 13 cents to an average of $3.05 per mile
  • Charlotte-Chicago was up 8 cents to $1.86 per mile, back to where it was a month ago
  • Dallas-Chicago also climbed 8 cents to $1.44 per mile, still short of last month’s average

L.A. slips again
Los Angeles was down 10 cents to $2.20 per mile following a 9-cent decline the previous week.

Reefer trends
Reefer load posts fell 2 percent and the number of truck posts was unchanged, which caused the load-to-truck ratio to fall 2 percent from 10.2 to 10. At $2.50 per mile, the national average reefer rate was the lowest average of 2018 but still higher than the peak reefer rates from 2017.

Flatbed trends
After four straight weeks of declines, the national average flatbed rate inched up 2 cents to $2.28 per mile – a sign that flatbed rates may have hit bottom. Better weather typically causes demand to pick up for flatbeds, a key mode for construction materials and equipment.

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.