China’s Container Shipping Futures Amidst Gaza War Uncertainty


  • The trading of China’s container shipping futures (CoFIF) surged last week amidst escalating tensions in the Middle East, particularly as peace talks collapsed and Israel hinted at an impending attack on Rafah.
  • Amidst escalating tensions in the Middle East due to the Gaza War, speculation in China’s container shipping futures market has intensified.
  • As peace talks collapse and uncertainty looms, traders are closely watching the market for potential impacts on container shipping rates and overall market dynamics.

The escalation of tensions in the Middle East, particularly the ongoing Gaza War, has sparked heavy speculation in China’s container shipping futures market. As peace talks collapse and geopolitical uncertainties mount, traders are closely monitoring the impact on container shipping rates and market dynamics.

Speculation Spurs Rally in Futures

Despite a shortened work week due to the US Labour Day holiday on May 1-2, rates on the two primary Asia-North Europe futures contracts, EC2406 and EC2408, saw an uptick on April 30 and May 6. This rally occurred as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed dissatisfaction with Hamas’s proposed ceasefire deal.

Trading Trends and Volume Surge

EC2406 and EC2408 contracts dominated trading, accounting for nearly 80% of daily volumes. Meanwhile, longer-dated contracts such as EC2412, EC2502, and the newly introduced EC2504 witnessed tactical sell-offs as trading hedges.

Optimistic Outlook and Increased Interest

Despite unchanged average daily volumes, open interest surged by 15% compared to the previous week, indicating market optimism regarding sustained elevated rates. EC2406 contracts experienced a third consecutive week of growth, rising by 11% to reach 3,101 for the week.

Spot Market Analysis and Future Predictions

Linerlytica’s recent report highlights a notable increase in spot market rates, with capacity utilization reaching its highest level since January 2023. The report predicts further gains in the CoFIF freight futures, particularly for end-June contracts, which currently trade at a significant premium to the Shanghai Containerised Freight Index (SCFI).

Impact on Capacity and Price Sentiment

Overcapacity concerns have diminished, partly due to containership diversions to the Cape of Good Hope, which have effectively reduced fleet capacity. Container xChange’s Container Price Sentiment Index suggests anticipation of stable and gradual price increases in the coming weeks, with 40ft container prices already showing a notable uptick.

Market Volatility and Geopolitical Sensitivity

Traders in China are experiencing significant volatility, with new container prices emerging every 48 hours, reflecting the market’s sensitivity to geopolitical tensions and uncertainties. Depots in the US and Europe report higher utilization rates and increased equipment usage fees and storage rental charges since the onset of Houthi attacks in November.

This surge in CoFIF trading and the corresponding market dynamics underscore the profound impact of geopolitical events on container shipping futures and global trade.

Did you subscribe to our daily Newsletter?

It’s Free! Click here to Subscribe

Source: The Loadstar