17 May 2024


The Loadstar reported this week that container spot rates continue their upward trajectory on key east-west trades, driven by double-digit week-on-week gains on Asia-Europe and Asia-North America routes. A recent Loadstar article referred to the ongoing Red Sea crisis coupled with unexpected high demand.

Drewry’s World Container Index (WCI) reported 12% week-on-week increases for the Shanghai-Rotterdam, Shanghai-Los Angeles, and Shanghai-New York legs, ending the week at $4,172, $4,476, and $5,717 per 40ft, respectively. The Shanghai-Genoa route saw an 11% increase to $4,776 per 40ft, while Freightos’ FBX reported a 17% rise on the Asia-Mediterranean leg to $5,179 per 40ft.

“Drewry expects ex-China freight rates to rise due to increased demand, tight capacity, and the need to reposition empty containers,” the analyst noted. Freightos head analyst Judah Levine highlighted to the Loadstar that early month General Rate Increases (GRIs) and additional mid-month surcharges, combined with unseasonal demand increases and Red Sea diversions, have stretched capacity and caused congestion. This has led to higher rates and challenges in booking shipments.

“Recent increases in Asia-Europe volumes during what is normally a slow season for ocean freight surprised many carriers and may point to the beginning of a restocking cycle for European importers,” Levine said. “The demand increase is resulting in reports of rolled containers and full ships through the end of the month.”

European forwarders anticipate rates could reach $5,000 and $5,400 per 40ft for North Europe and Mediterranean shipments, respectively, by month-end if the trend continues. CMA CGM has announced an Asia-North Europe FAK rate of $6,000 per 40ft effective June 1, reflecting carriers’ expectations for continued rate hikes.

Even the transatlantic market, previously stagnant, showed improvement with the WCI’s Rotterdam-New York leg rising 2% week-on-week to $2,209 per 40ft, while Xeneta’s XSI’s transatlantic rate grew 1% to $1,946 per 40ft.