December's month-end demand showed a 6.8-percent increase in spot market freight compared to November.
While loads increased month over month from November to December in both 2009 and 2008, it is more typical for load volume to decline in December. Holiday retail goods were shipped long ago, and the winter is a slow period for agriculture, construction and related cargo.
Spot market truckload capacity also eased in December, by 4 percent month over month. Compared to December 2009, last month's freight availability was 68 percent higher and capacity 6.2 percent lower. This added to a 79-percent increase in the load-to-truck ratio, year over year. That ratio, a key indicator, continues to hover just below five loads per available truck, indicating a combination of unusually robust freight availability with the beginnings of a truckload capacity crunch.
The encroaching winter season did cool off spot market rates, which had increased in November for all three equipment types. Spot market rates, which are paid by freight brokers to the carrier, began to decline in December. The downward trend was led by reefer rates, which slid by $0.05 (3.3 percent) from their November average. Flatbed rates slipped by $0.01 (0.8 percent) and van rates were stable, compared to November. (Note: National average rates may mask strong regional trends, which are discussed in TransCore's Freight Talk Blog.)
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