Rates Rollercoaster : Transatlantic Soars, While Asia-Europe Loses More Ground

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Container spot rates on the transatlantic shot up this week and, ahead of Chinese New Year tomorrow, transpacific rates carried on climbing, while Asia-Europe rates lost more ground.

Xeneta’s XSI North Europe to US east coast average spot rate leapt by 44%, to $2,078 per 40ft, after carriers took advantage of the Red Sea crisis to take out capacity and launch huge GRIs (general rate increases).

“If the flood of capacity on this trade was responsible for the collapse in rates, then it stands to reason that it is a key driver for them starting to increase again,” said Xeneta’s chief analyst, Peter Sand.

Volume fell 

Indeed, according to CTS (Container Trade Statistics) data, volumes shipped on the headhaul Europe to US tradelane fell every month last year, and were down 11% overall on 2022.

Restoring the spot rates

Having restored spot rates on the transatlantic from sub-economic levels to a historical average $2,000 per 40ft, it remains to be seen whether the lines can hold on to these gains against a background of weak demand.

Asia-North Europe spot rates have fallen by 11% in the past two weeks, versus an 18% drop for Asia-Mediterranean rates, however they remain 158% and 97% higher respectively than a year ago.

Elsewhere, on the transpacific, the enigma of the continued rise in spot rates from Asia to the US continues, given that only a minor percentage of the trade has been impacted by the Red Sea crisis.

For the US west coast, spot rates are around 130% higher than 12 months ago, with rates to the east coast double what they were this time last year.

Although demand ahead of CNY from Asia to the US has been more robust than for Asia to Europe, there appears to be no logical reason why spot rates have not eased in keeping with European trades.

Carriers will be keen to hold on to as much of the spot gains as they can, as they head into the transpacific contracting season, however shippers and BCOs will likely attempt to defer signing new annual contracts, or opt for a quarterly deal, until short-term rates have settled.

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Source : Loadstar

 

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