DAT: Spot rates easing after ELD high

Dry van and refrigerated load-to-truck ratios are edging down after hitting record peaks in early January, load board operator says.  National average dry van and flatbed spot rates fell slightly for the week ending January 20, with refrigerated or “reefer” spot rates remaining unchanged, according to data tracked by load board operator DAT Solutions.

That’s despite 3.5% fewer loads and a 4.6% increase in trucks being posted as available to haul freight, the company said.

This “gradual decline” in spot rates is in stark contrast to the sudden increases that occurred after December 18 last year, DAT said, when the mandate to install and use electronic logging devices (ELDs) went into effect.

Dry van and reefer load-to-truck ratios edged down for a second straight week after hitting record highs back in early January, the firm noted:

  • Dry van load-to-truck ratio: 9.8, down from 10.7 the previous week
  • Reefer load-to-truck ratio: 15.5, down from 18.4
  • Flatbed load-to-truck ratio: 53.9, up slightly from 53.7

Dry van load posts fell 5% and truck posts increased 4% as the national average spot rate for this segment slipped a penny to $2.27 per mile, DAT said.

Rates were down on most of the top 100 dry van lanes but remained elevated in key markets:

  • Dallas: up 2 cents to $2.05 per mile
  • Philadelphia: up 11 cents to $2.43 per mile
  • Chicago: up 5 cents to $3.05 per mile
  • Memphis: up 6 cents to $2.61 per mile

By contrast, Los Angeles dry van spot rates dropped 14 cents to $2.53 per mile for the week of January 20 after losing 16 cents the previous week.

The national average reefer rate held steady at $2.70 per mile as load posts fell 10% and truck posts increased 7%.

Demand for reefer capacity did spike in Northeast hubs, including Philadelphia ($3.46 per mile, up 16 cents) and Elizabeth, NJ ($2.35 per mile, up 10 cents) where traffic has been affected by winter weather.

Yet reefer load counts and rates fell off sharply from Nogales, AZ, as domestic produce begins to displace imports from the U.S.-Mexico border.

In the flatbed segment, load posts increased 3% and truck posts were up 2.5%, which pushed the national average flatbed spot rate down 2 cents to $2.40 per mile. Key regional markets are showing strength, DAT stressed:

  • Las Vegas: $2.89 per mile, up 7 cents
  • Phoenix: $2.24 per mile, up 6 cents
  • Savannah: GA: $2.78 per mile, up 5 cents
  • Houston: $2.65 per mile, up 8 cents
  • Harrisburg, PA: $3.76 per mile, up 18 cents
  • Los Angeles: $2.53 per mile, down 14 cents

Yet flatbed rates were softer in the Midwest for the week ending January 20, including outbound from Rock Island, IL ($3.03 per mile, down 16 cents), and Cleveland ($2.64 per mile, down 10 cents).

This article was originally published by American Trucker.