June 9, 2017 2:00 PM, EDT

Truckload Spot Rates Tighten Closer to Contract Rates

Antoine Gady/Flickr

The gap between contract rates and spot market rates in the truckload industry tightened in April, according to the latest Chainalytics-Cowen Freight Indices.

Dry van contract rates, which were generally 1% to 1.6% higher than spot rates in the winter, trimmed to less than 0.5% higher.

Refrigerated spot market rates were higher than contract rates at the end of April for the first time since Jan. 15, although at only 0.2%. The spring harvest generally creates greater demand for temperature-controlled trucks than in the winter.

“This indicates the market has picked itself off of the early 2017 lows. ... This could be because new contract rates are renewing at lower levels, the spot market has picked up, or both,” Cowen and Co. analyst Jason Seidl said . “We are still quite a ways off from the recent peaks of November and December 2016, when our indices registered 4.3% in dry-van and 6.1% in refrigerated. [Spot van rates were higher.] Our latest results averaged -0.3% and -0.2% in April [combining all weeks], respectively.”

During the last half of 2016, spot market prices surged in both modes, peaking at 3.4% higher than contract rates in dry van and 5% for refrigerated trucks, on average.