Spot market rates for dry van truckload service reached $2.07 last Friday, approaching an all-time record, DAT, a consultancy that tracks the transactional spot market, said yesterday.
The current record was set in March, when spot rates for dry van deliveries spiked to $2.10. The average spot rate for the month was $2.08. Those increases were due in part to inclement winter weather, which curtailed contractual dry van services and forced many shippers and freight brokers onto the spot market, DAT said.
For the week ended June 5, the average spot rate for dry van services stood at $2.05, DAT said. The firm tracks spot market load and rate activity on a weekly and monthly basis.
The upward move in rates came as the dry van "load-to-truck ratio," the ratio of available loads per available truck, declined as of the end of last week by 13 percent from the prior week. This reflects a loosening of overall capacity as the warmer weather puts more trucks on the road.
Spot rates for flatbed services declined by 2 cents, or 0.8 percent, week over week, DAT said. Spot rates for refrigerated services increased by 3 cents, or 1.3 percent. The load-to-truck ratios for both categories also declined week over week, DAT said.
The gains in van and reefer rates came despite a lower fuel surcharge week over week. Average diesel fuel prices fell 0.3 percent from the period of June 1 to June 7, DAT said.
The higher van and reefer spot rates come as the freight sector in general has shaken off first quarter winter-related disruptions and appears on a path to solid growth. The annual "State of Logistics Report" released earlier this week said that 2014 is shaping up to the best year for U.S. freight volumes since 2006.
Through May, freight shipments rose 13 percent from the same period in 2013, while freight payment transactions rose 11 percent, the report said. Freight payments in April hit their highest levels in 15 years, while shipment volumes rose to their highest point since June 2011, according to the report.
Rosalyn Wilson, the report's author, forecast that 2014 would be a "banner year" for freight. Her bullish comments were in marked contrast to her generally dour pronouncements about the business every year since the Great Recession was pronounced to be over in 2009.