DAT Solutions: Spot freight markets dip in early February

February 8, 2018

Special to Land Line


The first week of February brought a chill to an otherwise hot spot freight market. Rates on DAT MembersEdge declined and the number of loads slipped nearly 6 percent during the week ending Feb. 3. Truck posts increased 3 percent, which helped push van and reefer load-to-truck ratios down to pre-ELD-mandate levels.

  • Van: 6.9 available loads per truck
  • Flatbed: 61.1 loads per truck
  • Reefers: 10.2 loads per truck

There’s still freight to move but we’re seeing demand fall in line with what we’re used to at this time of year.

Rates drop
National average fell 3 cents for van freight ($2.23 per mile), 8 cents for reefers ($2.59 per mile), and 13 cents for flatbeds ($2.26 per mile).

Diesel on the rise
Here we go again. The price for diesel was up 1.6 cents to $3.09 per gallon as a national average, more than 50 cents higher than where we were last year.

Van trends
Spot van volumes declined 16 percent, and truck posts increased 4 percent. Van rates fell in nearly every major market, although prices are higher than they were a year ago.

Looking at major van markets, Chicago’s outbound average had the sharpest decline last week, down 16 cents to $2.77 per mile after a 15-cent drop the previous week. Elsewhere:

  • Houston, $2 per mile, down 6 cents
  • Memphis, $2.50 per mile, down 1 cent
  • Columbus, Ohio, $2.29 per mile, down 8 cents

California cool
Spot van loads and rates out West keep shifting lower, pulling load-to-truck ratios down with them. Check out the Hot States Map: the darker red states have higher ratios. California and Nevada are pretty pale. So are rates. The average outbound rate from Los Angeles was $2.32 per mile last week, down 9 cents.

Reefer trends
Reefer load posts fell 19 percent and truck posts increased 2 percent. Long-haul lanes from the southern border took big steps back, including McAllen, Texas-Elizabeth, N.J. (down 51 cents to $2.76 per mile) and Nogales, Arizona, to Brooklyn (down 79 cents to $2.43 per mile).

Flatbed trends
Spot prices for flatbed freight remain solid. Load posts increased 13 percent and truck posts declined 2 percent. The 61.9 load-to-truck is the second highest flatbed load-to-truck ratio seen in years.

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/industry-trends/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.