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Load volume gains 2%; rates hold steady as April ends

Load volume gains 2%; rates hold steady as April ends

The final week of any month usually means a bump in freight activity as shippers move goods prior to closing their books. But the number of loads posted on the DAT network of load boards market edged up just 2% during the week ending April 29, 2017, said DAT Solutions.

With truck posts rising 8%, load-to-truck ratios fell:

•Reefer ratio—5.8, down 13%

•Van ratio—3.4 loads per truck, down 4%

•Flatbed ratio—44.5, down 7%

While April may have ended quietly, rates rose for all trailer types during the month and load-to-truck ratios were above seasonal norms, signaling a strong start to the second quarter.

National average rates:

•Reefers—The national reefer rate was $1.94/mile for the third week in a row, but 7 cents better than the March average.

•Vans—The national average van rate dipped 1 cent to $1.67/mile, but that rate is still 4 cents higher than the March average.

•Flatbeds—The average flatbed rate was unchanged at $2.07/mile throughout April, and 4 cents better than the March average.

Reefer trends—Reefer load posts declined 5% while truck posts increased 10%. But compared with the same period in 2015 and 2016, reefer load-to-truck ratios are solid.

If you looked at the national average reefer rate, you might think that there wasn’t much happening in the spot market. But there was an influx of produce crossing the Mexican border the week ending April 29 and reefer load-to-truck ratios surged in Nogales, Laredo, and especially McAllen, where volumes soared 64%.

After wildfires interrupted traffic in Florida, produce started moving out of the state again the week ending April 29. Key outbound lanes:

—Miami FL-northern New Jersey reefer rates were up 17 cents to $2.26/mile

—Lakeland FL-Baltimore MD added 24 cents to $2.24/mile

A higher load count out of the Fresno area was offset by declines farther south in California. In fact, California was behind Texas, Florida and Georgia for reefer load availability.

Van trends—Nationally, van load posts increased 4% while truck posts rose 8%. On the top 100 van lanes, 50 were down in volume, 41 were up, and nine were neutral. Most changes were slight, though.

—Los Angeles CA outbound jumped 3 cents to $2.00/mile

—Seattle-Spokane WA hit $2.48/mile, up 6 cents

—Houston TX-New Orleans LA rose 8 cents to $2.28/mile

—Houston-Oklahoma City OK added 10 cents for $1.91/mile, a springtime high

Outbound freight volume and rates declined in Philadelphia PA ($1.68/mile, down 6 cents), giving up gains made earlier in the month. Philadelphia-Boston MA tumbled 22 cents to an average of $3.12/mile.

Flatbed trends—After a 20% gain the week ending April 29, the flatbed load-to-truck ratio settled down 2% to 44.5. Flatbed load posts climbed 2% while truck posts were up 10%.

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. See to learn more.

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