Chart depicts national average spot-market (“broker buy”) rates during the past four weeks. Rates are derived from DAT RateView and the DAT Network of load boards
DAT has reported that during the week ending Feb. 22, the national average spot-market van rate reached a peak of $1.98 per mile. That rate, per DAT Trendlines, a composite of the firm’s network of load boards, was 13% higher compared to the same week in 2013
That dizzying performance, according to DAT, was driven by growing load volume (up 12% that week) as well as a rise in tighter available capacity (up 3.3%) and remains in the company’s estimation “unseasonably high.”
What’s more, that surge in dry-van load volume and available capacity tightening moved the load-to-truck ratio to 5.6-- or 16% higher from the 4.8 recorded for the week before. The firm noted that load-to-truck ratios represent the number of loads posted for every truck posted on its network of load boards.
Meanwhile, overall load volume for reefers climbed 8.5% while capacity fell 1.4%, moving that load-to-truck ratio up 10.1% to 16.0, from 14.5 for the prior week.
DAT added that the national average rate for reefers fell 2 cents (a 0.9% decline) to $2.11 per mile—but pointed out that level is “still high for this time of year.”
Flatbed performance was also impressive. Posted flatbed loads rose 18% last week while flatbed capacity tightened 5.3%. That jumped the load-to-truck ratio 25% to 26.0, from 20.8 the prior week. And the national average rate for flatbeds climbed 2 cents to $2.10 per mile.
According to DAT, van traffic viewed regionally has been affected by weather-related supply chain issues:
- The average outbound spot rate from Memphis went up10 cents to $2.43 per mile “as some freight started moving east, adding pressure in that market”
- The rate from Atlanta averaged $2.05 per mile, up 5 cents last week
- The Midwest markets of Columbus, OH, and Chicago were up 10 cents at $2.30 per mile and down 4 cents to $2.35 per mile, respectively, although “Chicago is still up 7.8% during the last month”
- The average rate outbound rate from Buffalo dropped 16 cents to $2.04 per mile “as that market continues to seesaw with the weather”
The company suggested that a “notable factor to watch” is the price of fuel—pointing out that the national average diesel fuel price increased another 2.8¢ to $4.02 per gallon, “boosting the national average above $4 per gallon for the first time in 11 months.”