Spot freight volumes bloom as April comes to a close

Spot freight volumes bloom as April comes to a close

The number of spot market loads jumped 9% during the final week of April 2016, reported DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards.

Despite the higher demand for trucks and a 2% drop in available capacity, national average spot truckload rates were generally unchanged across all three equipment types.

Spot market volumes increased significantly on the top 100 van lanes for the week ending April 30, in part due to a spillover from produce markets in the Southeast and parts of California. When reefer carriers are busy, they aren’t competing for van loads. The van load-to-truck ratio rose from 1.4 to 1.6 compared with the previous week and the national average rate was unchanged for the third straight week at $1.50 per mile. Higher spot van rates in the southern states were offset by sagging prices in the Northeast and the Midwest.

Compared with March, van load posts were down 9% in April. Truck posts fell 3%, which led to a 6% decline in the load-to-truck ratio, from 1.6 to 1.5 loads per truck. Compared with April 2015, the ratio was down 46%.

Demand for reefers heated up as the number of load posts surged 19% during the week ending April 30. Truck capacity decreased 3% and the load-to-truck ratio climbed from 2.6 to 3.2 loads per truck. The national average spot reefer rate was 1.79 per mile, up 1 cent.

Reefer load posts retreated 9% in April versus March, and truck posts added 1%. That combination led to a 10% drop in the national load-to-truck ratio, from 3.1 to 2.8 loads per truck. Compared with April 2015, the ratio slid 54%.

In the flatbed market, spot load volume was up 4.5% while capacity fell 2% from the previous week. This led to an uptick in the flatbed load-to-truck ratio, from 19.8 to 21.1 loads per truck. The national average flatbed rate was unchanged at $1.90 per mile.

In April, flatbed load posts rose 9% versus the previous month. Capacity dropped 11%, which resulted in a 23% increase in the load-to-truck ratio, from 17.5 to 21.5 loads per truck. Compared with April 2015, the ratio was up 1%.

The national average diesel price gained another 7 cents to $2.27 a gallon.

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

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