Rates, volumes held steady into Christmas week

Updated Dec 30, 2018

The number of load posts on the spot truckload freight market fell 5 percent and truck posts declined slightly more — 6 percent — during the week ending Dec. 22, said DAT Solutions, which operates the DAT network of load boards.

Spot rates remained stable and roughly in line with the same period last year.

National Average Spot Truckload Rates:
Van: $2.07/mile, down 1 cent compared to the previous week
Flatbed: $2.42/mile, unchanged
Reefer: $2.42/mile, unchanged

Load-to-truck ratios:
National average van and flatbed load-to-truck ratios declined while the reefer ratio increased compared to the previous week, reflecting demand to move fresh produce and temperature-controlled goods ahead of the Christmas holiday.

Van: 5.1 loads per truck
Flatbed: 19.5 loads per truck
Reefer: 7.1 loads per truck, up 12 percent

Trend to Watch: Texas Freight
Houston
van pricing caught up to a recent spike in volumes last week as the average outbound rate rose 5 cents to $1.84/mile. The average rate from Dallas increased 2 cents to $1.76/mile, led in part by the Dallas to Houston lane, up 9 cents to an average of $2.48/mile compared to the previous week.

In McAllen, winter harvest activity helped boost the average outbound reefer rate 15 cents to $2.38/mile. Higher-priced lanes included McAllen to Elizabeth, N.J., which surged 51 cents to $2.75/mile, and McAllen to Atlanta, up 25 cents to $2.51/mile. Dallas to Houston was the region’s high lane for reefer freight, gaining 8 cents to $2.91/mile compared to the previous week.

Market to Watch: Buffalo

This market map from Dec. 26 shows the load-to-truck ratio was 15.5 for van freight leaving Buffalo — a big change from the average of 4.7 van loads per truck for the month of December to date. Since then, however, rates have lost traction on eastbound lanes while some of the westbound lane rates are trending up.This market map from Dec. 26 shows the load-to-truck ratio was 15.5 for van freight leaving Buffalo — a big change from the average of 4.7 van loads per truck for the month of December to date. Since then, however, rates have lost traction on eastbound lanes while some of the westbound lane rates are trending up.

Buffalo’s nickname is “The City of Good Neighbors,” a nod to its importance in the U.S.-Canada trade relationship. The area is home to countless warehouses and distribution centers and a steady stream of traffic from southern Ontario.

Given the dynamics of recent rate and demand-indicator moves east- and westbound out of or into the city noted above, here’s a closer look at where things have been trending in each direction:

Eastbound: The lane from Chicago to Buffalo gained 10 cents to $3.10/mile, while the return trip lost 2 cents. Since Christmas, rates are drifting down in both directions. Buffalo to Allentown, Pa., added 27 cents last week to $3.49 per mile. Those rates have retreated a bit since Christmas.

Westbound: The average rate from Philadelphia to Buffalo shot up 31 cents to $2.80 per mile. It’s continued to rise as we get closer to the end of the quarter and the year.

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