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TransCore reported that during the week of September 19 to 25, spot market load availability slipped by 3.4 percent while equipment capacity tightened by 1.7 percent compared to the previous week. The question is whether freight volume will tick up in the last week of September as it has during the final weeks of this year's quarter closes. In 2009 and 2008, spot freight volume increased by an average of 6 percent in the last week of September as shippers appeared to accelerate freight movements before the closed of third quarter.
Rates on the spot market are a mixed bag. In September to date, reefer rates are still trending up on the spot market, as are vans - which of course carry the highest volume of freight -- but flatbed rates continue to decline. Spot market rates are based on a 30-day rolling average of thousands of rate agreements between brokers and carriers. Because the spot rate information is updated daily, it often foreshadows trends in the shippers' contract rates, which are reported monthly and lag the spot market by 30 days.
That said, average contract rates for August freight were reported this week, based on actual freight bills from the month's truckload shipments. Shippers who contracted directly with carriers paid $0.01 per mile more for vans and reefers in August than in July, while flatbed rates held steady. During the same period, broker rates increased for reefers only; flatbed and van rates declined on the spot market in August, compared to July.
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