The spot market ended July on a high note, with truckload volume rising sharply and truckload capacity tightening during the week ending August 2, according to DAT Solutions, which operates a network of load boards.

DAT found that the overall number of loads posted increased 7.5%, compared to the prior week, while the number of available trucks decreased 7.4%.

Meanwhile, rates were “relatively stable” as a national average, the company pointed out, “masking big changes in individual markets and lanes.”

The national average van rate fell 1 cent (0.5%) to $2.06 per mile (including fuel surcharge) on the spot market.

Van load availability climbed 6.9% while posted capacity fell 7.7% for the week. The national van load-to-truck ratio jumped 16% to 3.1, meaning there were 3.1 loads posted for every truck available on DAT’s load boards.

For the month of July, the van load-to-truck ratio averaged 3.2, a 26% plummet from June. However, this July ended 23% above the level hit in July 2013.

The national average reefer rate dipped just 1 cent (0.4%) to $2.35 per mile, which DAT called “a strong rate historically. “

The number of posted refrigerated loads increased 7.9% and capacity decreased 5.2%, compared to the previous week. The resulting refrigerated load-to-truck ratio was up 14% to 8.9 loads per truck.

For the month, the average reefer load-to-truck ratio declined 21% to 9.1 from a seasonal high of 11.5 in June. Year-over-year, the load-to-truck ratio was 15% higher compared to July 2013.

Flatbed rates went unchanged, with the national average at $2.44 per mile.

Flatbed load availability increased 6.0% while capacity declined 7.1%. As a result, load-to-truck ratio jumped 14%, compared to the previous week, rising from 31.9 to 36.4 loads per truck.

For July, flatbed load volume declined 11% compared to June. But capacity increased 14%-- driving the load-to-truck ratio down 22%. Compared to July 2013, however, there were 52% more flatbed loads and 19% fewer trucks posted. That resulted in an 88% increase in the flatbed load-to-truck ratio year-over-year.

DAT pointed out that the load-to-truck ratios that it reports for each week represent the number of loads posted for every truck posted on the company’s load boards.

“The load-to-truck ratio is a sensitive, real-time indicator of the balance between spot market demand and capacity,” advised the company. “Changes in the ratio often signal impending changes in rates.

DAT noted that it makes available weekly reports on spot rates and demand.