BLOOMINGTON, Ind. And BOISE, Idaho — Data from Truckstop and FTR Transportation Intelligence for the week that ended Feb. 17 indicate a continued cooling of the van segments’ spot metrics relative to the five-year average.
With load availability down slightly and truck availability up slightly, the Market Demand Index eased to 56.6, which is the lowest in four weeks, according to a news release.
Dry van and refrigerated in the latest week both saw broker-posted rates decline for the sixth week in the past seven weeks, and they have seen notably weaker rates than average over the past two weeks.
Neither segment had seen rates significantly below average since early in the recovery from lockdowns in the spring of 2020, the news release noted.
For the second straight week, the total broker-posted spot market rate barely budged, easing just three-tenths of a cent. Total rates continued to track at 19% below the same week in 2022, but they were more than 4% above the five-year average. FTR estimates that rates excluding a calculated fuel surcharge were nearly 26% below the same 2022 week.
Spot rate comparisons with the five-year average for dry van and refrigerated in the latest week were the weakest since June 2020, and load activity comparisons versus the average were the weakest since the lockdown phase of the pandemic.
However, average spot rates and load activity are skewed somewhat higher by a spike in mid-February 2021 due to extremely cold weather across the U.S. That distortion of the five-year average will peak during the current week. Continued payroll job growth in trucking coupled with the exits of large numbers of small carriers from the market could result in further activity shifting from spot to contract in the near term given a weak outlook for overall truck freight volumes.
Spot load activity declined 3.5% after holding flat during the prior week. Volume was 57% below the same week last year and about 26% below the five-year average. Unusually strong volume in 2021’s week 7 skews the five-year average somewhat, although the true spike occurred during week 8 of that year.
Total load activity was down in all regions except the Midwest. Truck postings increased 2%, and the Market Demand Index – the ratio of loads to trucks – fell to its lowest level in four weeks.
Dry van spot rates declined nearly 3 cents. Rates were more than 30% below the same 2022 week and more than 7% below the five-year average for the week, which is the weakest comparison since June 2020. Excluding a fuel surcharge, rates were almost 40% lower than in the same week last year. Dry van loads declined 4.5%. Volume was more than 59% below the same week last year and almost 30% below the five-year average for the week. Load activity was down in the Northeast, Midwest, and West Coast regions and up only slightly elsewhere.
Refrigerated spot rates fell nearly 6 cents. Rates were almost 30% below the same 2022 week and nearly 7% below the five-year average for the week. As with dry van, the comparison versus the five-year average is the weakest since June 2020. Excluding fuel surcharges, rates were nearly 38% below the same week last year. Refrigerated loads fell nearly 12%. Volume was more than 61% below the same week last year and more than 36% below the five-year average for the week. Load activity was down in all regions.
Flatbed load activity declined week over week for the first time this year, but spot rates were slightly stronger.
Flatbed spot rates ticked up more than a cent. Rates were almost 15% below the same 2022 week but more than 9% above the five-year average for the week. Excluding an imputed surcharge, flatbed rates were more than 20% below the same week last year. Flatbed loads declined about 2% for the first week-over-week decrease this year. Volume was nearly 60% below the same week last year and more than 28% below the five-year average for the week. Load activity was up in the Midwest and West Coast regions but down elsewhere.
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.