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China-US ocean freight rates continue to climb

2020-01-19 Source: Jctrans

Capacity tightens ahead of Chinese New Year, says digital rates specialist

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China-US ocean freight rates continue to climb as capacity tightens ahead of the Chinese New Year, according to the latest data from digital rates specialist, Freightos.

The Freightos Baltic Index (FBX) issued on 15 January, showed that China-US West Coast prices rose by 10% since last week to US$1,567/FEU. Rates are 11% behind last year’s prices for this week.

China-US East Coast prices are also up, gaining 5% to $2,944/FEU. This rate trails last year’s by just 2%.

Eytan Buchman, CMO, Freightos, noted that although other sources projected drops in China-US West Coast rates for this week, “FBX’s real-time data, based on current rates being used by global logistics providers, indicated that China-US prices continued to make gains through the home stretch to Chinese New Year (CNY).”

He continued: “Carriers have kept capacity tight with reports of some rollovers to after CNY. As demand generally dips after the holiday, carriers will exercise strict capacity management through blank sailings to try and hold on to these gains, though there are some reports of reduced pricing offered to move some volume to post-CNY sailings.”

Turning to US foreign policy and its impact on freight, Buchman remarked that as US-Iran tensions eased, oil prices have settled down too.

“And though the industry is still adjusting to the new IMO2020 fuel environment, analysts expect the spread between low sulfur fuel and standard HFO to narrow over the course of the year and reduce fuel surcharges.

“US-China relations, meanwhile, are leading retailers to project a return to growth and normal seasonal ordering trends by the end of Q1 as trade conditions improve. This likely means that transpacific prices this year will exceed 2019’s atypically low prices.”

The latest FBX also showed that rates on the China-North Europe trade lane rose 13% on last week to $2,142/FEU and were up 28%  on the corresponding week last year.

Rates on the North Europe-US East Coast trade lane were down 1%  to $1,869/FEU on last week but were 32%  higher when compared to the same week in 2019.

The FBX rate for global trade lanes was up 5% on last week to $1,587/FEU and +7% on the corresponding week last year.

As for Drewry's latest World Container Index (WCI), published yesterday (16 January), covering eight major East-West trades, it showed that spot rates for a 40ft box from Shanghai to Los Angeles rose 2% compared to the previous week  to reach $1,654/FEU.

However, the rates on this route show a fall of 27% year-on-year (YoY).

Shanghai-New York prices were unchanged this week at $2,813/FEU but were down 13% on a year ago.

Turning to the Asia-Europe trades, freight rates on the Shanghai-Rotterdam route were unchanged at  $2,288/FEU this week and are 24% higher YoY. Shanghai-Genoa prices rose 1% to $2,662 per 40ft container while showing a gain of 41% YoY.

On the Transatlantic trade, Rotterdam-New York rates were unchanged at $2,415/FEU and were up 18% YoY.

New York-Rotterdam prices were down 1% at $519/FEU and were 11% lower than the corresponding week last year.

As anticipated, the WCI's composite index remained stable, Drewry noted, with a marginal increase of 1%  to $1,791per 40ft container.

The average composite index of the WCI, assessed by Drewry for year-to-date, is $1,801 per 40ft container, which is $406 higher than the five-year average of $1,395 per 40ft container.


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