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Spot truckload rates recede from recent record highs

Spot truckload rates declined again during the week ending July 28, 2018, as the overall number of loads posted on DAT load boards fell 4.2% while capacity increased 0.5%.

National average rates dropped for all three equipment types: the refrigerated rate decreased 3 cents to $2.62/mile, the van rate retreated 3 cents to $2.30/mile and the flatbed rate dipped 1 cent to $2.78/mile.

These rates are just pennies lower than June’s record highs, however, and the volume of available freight is actually running slightly ahead of June weekly averages. The spot freight market continues to be strong compared with historical averages.

Load-to-truck ratios declined slightly for vans and flatbeds the week ending July 28, while the reefer ratio was stable compared with the previous week.

The number of reefer load posts on DAT load boards held steady while truck posts were down 1%. The reefer ratio rose to 8.4 loads per truck, which is 36% lower that the June average of 13.1. Capacity is beginning to loosen up.

Nationally, the average rate for reefers is 4 cents below the June average but still high versus previous years. Simply put, rates are falling from an all-time high in June.

In the van market, the number of available trucks increased 1% compared with the previous week while load posts were off 3%. These conditions pushed the national van load-to-truck ratio down slightly to 6.9.

Prices softened in several van markets:

•Los Angeles—$2.80/mile, down 6 cents

•Memphis—$2.77/mile, down 13 cents

•Atlanta—$2.47, down 11 cents

•Houston—$2.19/mile, down 6 cents

The national load-to-truck ratio for flatbeds fell for the seventh straight week at 39.5. Load posts were down 9% while truck posts were unchanged.

One market to watch: Texas, where steel tariffs and challenges securing specialty pipe that is manufactured almost entirely from overseas steel may be having an effect on flatbed load availability. Overall, flatbed pricing remains volatile with large weekly swings in both directions.

DAT Trendlines is generated using DAT RateView, a service that provides real-time reports on prevailing spot market and contract rates, as well as historical rate and capacity trends. RateView’s database is comprised of more than $45 billion in freight bills in 65,000-plus lanes. DAT load boards average 993,000 load posts per business day.

For the latest spot market load availability and rate information, visit www.dat.com/trendlines.