VAN - Rates Hold Up in Mid-October
While the national average van rates appear to have lost 3¢ last week, it's not a precise measure. The rate moved from $1.44 to $1.41 but before rounding to the nearest cent, that could be a change from $1.444 to $1.405 (3.9¢) or from $1.435 to $1.414. (2.1¢) Those are very different results.
Looking at the Top 80 lanes by freight volume, rates declined 0.8%, which is plausible. On a total rate of $1.92, a drop of 0.8% is about 1.5¢. Putting this in context, the line haul rate of $1.41 per mile is 5¢ above September's final average of $1.36. Compared to October 2012, this week's average rate is up by 15¢. I measure van lanes in both directions, so the result is well balanced, and the trends in high-volume lanes tend to reflect the national rates.
REEFER - Rates Remain Hot, Relative to Prior Month and Year
As with vans, we can choose to focus on the 3¢ drop in national rates or look at the bigger picture: October reefer rates are remaining above September levels, and current rates are a full 11¢ higher than they were in October 2012. This increase may have been influenced by pressure from HOS and CARB, as well as shifts in timing and volume of this year's major agricultural harvests.
FLATBED - Steep Drop Follows Post-Season Surge
Last week's national rates dropped 13¢ for flatbeds, which looks shocking on the graph. At first glance, I thought it was a misprint! Looking at the context, however, we see that flatbed rates are now just 4¢ below their September average. Flatbeds opened the month on an atypically strong footing, but volume and rates softened last week. Not coincidentally, military traffic has seen a big drop due to the current Federal budget woes. Much of the military goods and equipment travel by flatbed, so that segment is most strongly affected.
This month's national average rates are up 1¢ from $1.93 to $1.94 compared to October 2013. However, because fuel is less expensive this year, the fuel surcharge is down, so the difference in the base, line haul rate is likely in the range of 3¢ to 4¢, depending on equipment type. The rate trend shown above is a weighted average of 68% van, 16% reefer and 16% flatbed, to reflect the composition of available capacity in the freight marketplace.
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