Atypical year-end rise seen in freight market

by MM&D Online staff

PORTLAND, Oregon—Spot market freight availability rose 10 percent in December compared to November, according to the DAT North American Freight Index, capping two quarters of unusually strong seasonal volume. Typically, freight levels peak in Q2, fall in Q3, and remain low through year end, but this year’s pattern formed a high plateau through most of the second half, according to the company.

Compared to December 2012, freight volume increased 45 percent, and the continued, atypical demand set a sixth consecutive record for same-month freight volume, with the highest level for any December since the DAT Index began in 1996.

Load availability in December rose 19 percent for vans, 14 percent for refrigerated (“reefer”) trailers and 1.0 percent for flatbeds, compared to the prior month. Year over year, van freight volume increased 41 percent, reefer loads added 65 percent and flatbed freight increased 43 percent.

Rates in the spot market rose 5.0 percent for vans, to a monthly average of $1.95 per mile, the highest observed since DAT began publishing spot market rates in 2009. Reefer and flatbed rates also increased, 3.2 percent and 3.8 percent, respectively, month over month. Compared to December 2012, rates rose 15 percent for vans, 6.7 percent for reefers and 7.8 percent for flatbeds.

Reference rates are derived from DAT RateView. Rates are cited for line haul only, excluding fuel surcharges, which increased on a month-over-month basis but declined compared to December 2012. The monthly DAT North American Freight Index reflects spot market freight availability on the TransCore DAT network of load boards in the United States and Canada.