Insult to injury: Diesel prices spike above $4, spot rates down for third week

Trucking news and briefs for Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2024:

Diesel prices shoot up above $4/gallon

After falling to the lowest national average since July during the week ending Jan. 8, diesel prices have slowly been climbing until the most recent week ending Feb. 12, according to the Energy Information Administration’s latest report. Meanwhile, as if to add insult to injury in the spot market, rates overall have been falling since spiking with winter weather mid-last month. 

Diesel’s national average fell to $3.83 during the first full week of the year, then climbed to $3.90 by Feb. 5. During the most recent week, however, prices spiked by 21 cents to rise back above $4 a gallon for the first time since early December.

The U.S.’ national average for a gallon of on-highway diesel is now $4.11 -- the highest since the week ending Nov. 27 when diesel averaged $4.15 a gallon.

The increase during the most recent week was driven by a 30.4-cent increase in the Midwest region, a 21.4-cent increase in the Lower Atlantic region, a 21-cent increase in the West Coast less California region. New England and the Central Atlantic regions were the least impacted by increases last week, with 2.6-cent and 4.2-cent increases, respectively.

Spot rates ought to be adjusting to the diesel spikes this week, though last week brokers and shippers gained with further slumping averages.

According to the weekly report from FTR Transportation Intelligence and the Truckstop load board, broker-posted spot rates there took a loss for the third straight week. Rates fell in all equipment types (dry van, reefer, flatbed). Vans saw the sharpest drop, producing the lowest weekly spot rate since the week before Thanksgiving. Reefer's fall was the smallest of the past three weeks, but still substantial. The aforementioned weather-related spike in the third week of the year, analysts suspected, could account for the declining trend, distorting more typically seen weekly patterns.According to the weekly report from FTR Transportation Intelligence and the Truckstop load board, broker-posted spot rates there took a loss for the third straight week. Rates fell in all equipment types (dry van, reefer, flatbed). Vans saw the sharpest drop, producing the lowest weekly spot rate since the week before Thanksgiving. Reefer's fall was the smallest of the past three weeks, but still substantial. The aforementioned weather-related spike in the third week of the year, analysts suspected, could account for the declining trend, distorting more typically seen weekly patterns.

DAT's weekly Trendlines update, meanwhile, showed similar rates dynamics, and bad news for owner-operators and small fleets looking for signs of a turn upward for freight markets. After a somewhat significant narrowing of the spread between average contract and spot rates in January, so far in February that spread has reversed course and widened in the three major segments, largely on the decline in the spot market. 

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January's weather bump there, as suggested, may end up just a blip.  

[Related: Old Man Winter delivered a spot rates surge]

The nation’s most expensive diesel remains in California at $5.25 per gallon, followed by the New England region at $4.35. 

The cheapest fuel is in the Rocky Mountain region at $3.81 per gallon, followed by the Gulf Coast region at $3.87 per gallon.

Prices in other regions, according to EIA:

  • Central Atlantic -- $4.32
  • Lower Atlantic -- $4.14
  • Midwest -- $4.04
  • West Coast less California -- $4.26

ProMiles’ diesel averages during the most recent week showed prices climb 5.1 cents to $3.92 a gallon.

According to the ProMiles Fuel Surcharge Index, the most expensive diesel can be found in California at $5.19 per gallon, and the cheapest can be found in the Rocky Mountain region at $3.62 per gallon.

[Related: Canada's Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion could soon boost U.S. diesel prices]

New TA Express opens in Louisiana

TravelCenters of America has opened a new TA Express in Hosston, Louisiana, offering 40 truck parking spaces off I-49.

The new travel center is a franchised site offering fueling, convenience items, a dining option, and other services for professional drivers and motorists. It is located at 6411 Highway 2, at exit 237 off I-49.

In addition to the parking capacity, the new location offers Subway and Hunts Brothers Pizza restaurants, six diesel lanes with DEF, four showers and more.

[Related: Sheetz to open new truck-friendly location]

San Antonio Flying J reopens after burning down

Pilot Travel Centers is celebrating the reopening of its Flying J travel center in San Antonio after the store was lost to a fire in December 2022.

The travel center is ready to serve drivers and the local community with brand-new amenities, as well as some notable enhancements, the company said.

“Our team members are proud to welcome drivers back to this completely rebuilt Flying J travel center,” said Allison Cornish, senior vice president of store modernization and development at Pilot Travel Centers. “We’re excited to be able to continue serving the East side of San Antonio and provide exceptional experiences to our guests.”

The Flying J travel center, located at 1815 N Foster Road, offers:

  • Expanded food offerings, including fresh hot food and pizza
  • Expanded restrooms and showers
  • High-speed Wi-Fi
  • Expanded lounge for professional drivers
  • Efficient public laundry facilities
  • A Southern Tire Mart at Pilot Flying J service center
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