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Spot truckload freight availability softens; rates stay elevated

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BEAVERTON, Ore. — Newsal spot truckload rates were neutral or slightly down during the week ending September 22 but remain roughly 20 percent higher year over year, said DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards.

The national average spot van rate fell 1 cent to $2.15/mile, the refrigerated rate dipped 1 cent to $2.53/mile and the flatbed rate declined 2 cents to $2.56/mile.

The overall number of loads posted decreased last week as road closures and limited access to the Carolinas likely prevented stronger demand from forming. This situation will likely turn around as relief and replenishment supplies move in.

One reason spot rates are higher is the price of fuel, DAT said. The national average price of on-highway diesel was $3.27 per gallon last week and is 23 percent higher compared to this time last year. Spot rates incorporate a fuel surcharge.

VAN TRENDS: The number of van load posts on DAT load boards fell 17 percent and truck posts dropped 21 percent compared to the previous week. That resulted in a 5 percent increase in the national load-to-truck ratio, moving up to 7.0 loads per truck. Van rates increased on several lanes from the Northeast and Southeast into Charlotte, including Philadelphia to Charlotte, which jumped 21 cents to $2/mile compared to the previous week.

REEFER TRENDS: Reefer load posts declined 19 percent while truck posts fell 21 percent last week. That resulted in a 3 percent increase in the load-to-truck ratio, from 7.7 to 8.0 loads per truck. The average rate tumbled on several produce lanes in the Midwest and Southeast:

  • Green Bay, Wisconsin, to Des Moines, Iowa: $2.36/mile, down 39 cents
  • Grand Rapids, Michigan to Philadelphia: $4.02/mile, down 18 cents
  • Atlanta to Lakeland, Florida: $3.35/mile, down 13 cents

FLATBED TRENDS: Last week flatbed load posts fell 12 percent but truck posts declined 23 percent on DAT load boards. That caused the national flatbed load-to-truck ratio to jump 14 percent from 23.3 to 26.6 loads per truck. Among the lanes showing strength:

  • Cleveland to Houston: $2.05/mile, up 28 cents
  • Baltimore to Charlotte, North Carolina: $1.91/mile, up 12 cents
  • Tampa to Atlanta: $1.75/mile, up 17 cents

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

For the latest spot market load availability and rate information, visit and join the conversation on Twitter with @LoadBoards.

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DAT: Spot rates weaken as weather clouds a sunny forecast

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This chart shows that both van and reefer rates were down based on a seven-day average compiled on March 16. (Courtesy: DAT)

PORTLAND, Ore. — Just when spot truckload rates and demand seemed ready for an upward swing, they took another hit last week.

With weather disruptions on vital truck routes in the Midwest and Rockies, van and refrigerated load-to-truck ratios slipped during the week ending March 16, said DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards:

  • Van: 1.6 loads per truck
  • Reefer: 2.9 loads per truck
  • Flatbed: 22 loads per truck

The DAT load-to-truck ratio measures the number of loads moved on the spot market relative to the number of available trucks. Newsal average rates declined as well compared to the previous week:

  • Van: $1.86/mile, down 2 cents
  • Reefer: $2.19/mile, down 2 cents
  • Flatbed: $2.34/mile, unchanged

Van trends

Spot van volumes remain ahead of March 2018 levels but so far this month demand for trucks is no better than it was in February 2019. Capacity is abundant and spot van rates are drifting: On DAT’s top 100 van lanes last week, pricing fell on 53 and rose on 36. Eleven lanes were neutral.

Where Rates Were Up: With freight markets in the Midwest struggling with unusual weather, there was a ripple effect for supply chains. For instance, the challenge of getting freight into Denver last week led to an 18-cent increase in the average rate from Seattle to Salt Lake City ($1.90/mile). On the other hand, the extra West Coast trucks in Salt Lake City caused rates on the lane from there to Stockton, California, to decline.

What to Watch: Expect a boost in flatbed pricing as the demand to move heavy machinery and construction materials into the region picks up. High demand for flatbeds in the coming weeks may cause van availability to tighten on some lanes.

Reefer trends

The national average spot reefer rate has declined in seven of the last eight weeks. On the top 72 reefer lanes, 26 lanes moved up while 43 lanes fell and three were neutral. We’re waiting on California and Florida produce to pull rates higher.

Where Rates Were Up: Sacramento, California, to Salt Lake City jumped 40 cents to $2.35/mile, possibly due to trouble getting into Denver. In the Midwest, two lanes from Grand Rapids, Michigan, rebounded from last week:

  • Grand Rapids to Madison, Wisconsin, increased 22 cents to $2.58/mile
  • Grand Rapids to Atlanta added 21 cents to $2.71/mile

Where Rates Fell: Many of the prior week’s gainers came back to earth, including Elizabeth, New Jersey, to Boston (down 38 cents to $3.81/mile) and Philadelphia to Miami (off 22 cents to $1.96/mile).

DAT Trendlines are generated using DAT RateView, which provides real-time reports on spot market and contract rates, as well as historical rate and capacity trends. The RateView database is comprised of more than $60 billion in freight payments.

DAT load boards average 1.2 million load posts searched per business day.

For the latest spot market load availability and rate information, visit and follow @LoadBoards on Twitter.

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ACT: Current Class 8 story is big backlogs, slowing orders

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ACT says heavy commercial vehicle markets continue to benefit from key triggers and new technologies, (Courtesy: VOLVO TRUCKS)

COLUMBUS, Ind. — In the release of its Commercial Vehicle Dealer Digest, ACT Research said that recently softer Class 8 orders are attributed to backlogs that are still out about 10 months.

Many of the orders normally booked in the year’s first quarter were actually placed in the rush to get into the queue in the second half of 2018.

The report provides monthly analysis on transportation trends, equipment markets, and the economy.

“The rolling-over of ACT’s dashboard guidance suggests today’s order weakness will transition from ‘too much backlog’ to an equipment supply-freight demand imbalance in the near future,” said Kenny Vieth, ACT’s president and senior analyst. “That said, heavy commercial vehicle markets continue to benefit from key triggers, including still-strong freight rates (being marked-down from record levels) and new technologies, like better fuel efficiency and safety technologies, as well as increased demand generated in the trailer segment for drop-and-hook to keep drivers moving.”

ACT Research is a publisher of commercial vehicle truck, trailer, and bus industry data, market analysis and forecasting services for the North American and China markets. ACT’s analytical services are used by all major North American truck and trailer manufacturers and their suppliers, as well as banking and investment companies.

More information can be found at .

 

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ATA truck tonnage index down 0.2 percent in February

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Despite the February decline, the index was 5.4 percent higher than February 2018. (The Trucker file photo)

ARLINGTON, Va. — The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted (SA) For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index was down 0.2 percent in February after increasing 2.5 percent in January. In February, the index equaled 117.4 (2015=100) compared with 117.6 in January.

“After a strong January, I’m pleasantly surprised that the index didn’t fall much last month,” said ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello. “I continue to expect tonnage to moderate like other indicators, including retail sales, manufacturing activity and housing starts. Additionally, the level of inventories throughout the supply chain have increased, which is a drag on truck freight.”

January’s reading was revised up slightly compared with our February press release.

Compared with February 2018, the SA index increased 5.4 percent, down from January’s 5.8 percent gain. In 2018, the index increased 6.7 percent over 2017, which was the largest annual gain since 1998.

The not seasonally adjusted index, which represents the change in tonnage actually hauled by the fleets before any seasonal adjustment, equaled 106.9 in February, 5.7 percent below January’s level (113.3). In calculating the index, 100 represents 2015.

Trucking serves as a barometer of the U.S. economy, representing 70.2 percent of tonnage carried by all modes of domestic freight transportation, including manufactured and retail goods. Trucks hauled 10.77 billion tons of freight in 2017. Motor carriers collected $700.1 billion, or 79.3 percent of total revenue earned by all transport modes.

ATA calculates the tonnage index based on surveys from its membership and has been doing so since the 1970s. This is a preliminary figure and subject to change in the final report issued around the 5th day of each month. The report includes month-to-month and year-over-year results, relevant economic comparisons, and key financial indicators.

 

 

 

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