Spot market load availability fell 5.6% during the week ending February 6, 2016, with the number of van and refrigerated loads dropping 17% and 12%, respectively, according to DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards.
The combination of fewer posted loads and 2.5% more capacity helped hold rates down compared with the previous week. Declining fuel prices also played a role: diesel prices dropped 3 cents to a national average of just under $2.01 per gallon, an 11-year low. Freight brokers usually quote a one-time rate that includes both the line-haul rate and the fuel surcharge.
The national average van rate edged down 3 cents to $1.62 per mile, while the reefer rate dipped 3 cents to $1.85 per mile. The average flatbed rate was unchanged at $1.85 per mile compared with the previous week.
Van load posts declined 14% while available capacity increased 4%, which sent the van load-to-truck ratio down 17%. The drop from 1.7 to 1.4 loads per truck means there were 1.4 van loads for every van posted on the DAT network. In the reefer market, there were 11% fewer loads while truck posts added 1%. The load-to-truck ratio retreated 12% from 3.8 to 3.4 loads per truck.
The spot flatbed freight market found some traction, with load volume up 6% against a 1% increase in capacity. That yielded a 6% increase in the flatbed load-to-truck ratio, from 8.3 to 8.7 loads per truck.
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.
Load-to-truck ratios represent the number of loads posted for every truck available on DAT load boards. The load-to-truck ratio is a sensitive, real-time indicator of the balance between spot market demand and capacity. Changes in the ratio often signal impending changes in rates.
For complete national and regional reports on spot rates and demand, go to www.dat.com/Trendlines.