Up-and-down demand volatility continues on spot market with weather hampering activity

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Spot truckload freight activity slowed last week as Tropical Storm Imelda brought severe rain and flooding to Houston and other nearby areas, disrupting supply chains across the South and Midwest. The number of loads posted to the spot market dropped 25% compared to the previous week, and the number of trucks posted fell 17%, said DAT Solutions, operator of the DAT network of load boards.

The van load-to-truck ratio averaged 2.1 last week, with higher demand in western markets that serve as alternatives to Houston.The van load-to-truck ratio averaged 2.1 last week, with higher demand in western markets that serve as alternatives to Houston.

The price of diesel, meanwhile, shot up 9 cents to $3.08 per gallon as a national average.

National average spot rates, September 2019 (through Sept. 22)
Van: $1.84 per mile, 3 cents higher than the August average
Flatbed: $2.19 per mile, 1 cent lower than August
Reefer: $2.17 per mile, 3 cents higher than August

Trend to watch: Storm cleanup
The van load-to-truck ratio averaged 2.1, down from 2.4 the previous week, and spot rates were higher on 41 of DAT’s Top 100 largest van lanes by volume. The average outbound rate from the difficult Denver market increased 6 cents to $1.24 per mile and rates were higher from Denver to Houston ($1.30 per mile, up 12 cents) and other markets (like Oklahoma City) that generally use Houston-based businesses in their supply chains. Suppliers in Denver helped pick up the slack.

Look for supply chains to return to normal as the water recedes and people get back to work. The effects of Hurricane Dorian continue to fade, with demand for trucks falling in the Southeast. Atlanta to Charlotte dropped 17 cents to $2.21 per mile, and Atlanta to Miami fell 13 cents to $2.54 per mile.

Market to watch: Albuquerque pumpkins
It’s pumpkin season in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which creates opportunities for both van and reefer haulers. The van load-to-truck ratio there hit 15 to 1 with more than 2,400 available loads; the reefer ratio was 37 to 1 with more than 2,500 available loads. Albuquerque to Denver averaged $2.40 per mile last week, while the return averaged $1.74 per mile, well above that outbound Denver average we noted above. That makes for decent $2.07 per mile average for the 894-mile roundtrip.

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For reefers, Albuquerque to Denver averaged $3.14 per mile with $2.85 per mile on the return. That’s a roundtrip average of $2.99 per mile. Not bad for Denver.

Remember, these rates are averages from last week and this week could be shaping up differently. Negotiate the best deal you can on every haul. The weekly spot-rate snapshot is derived from DAT RateView, which provides real-time updates on spot market and contract rates, as well as historical rate and capacity trends.

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