Mixed fortunes on transpacific and transatlantic trade routes Ship’s crew

From Mike Wackett (The Loadstar) –

Spot rates for containers from Asia to the US rose sharply this week, while shippers managed to halt the fall in short-term rates from Asia to northern Europe.

However, spot prices have fallen again on the westward transatlantic route, with average prices hovering around $1,500 per 40 feet.

John McCown’s latest analysis for US container imports in June shows an 18.6% yoy volume decline to 1,747,698 teu at the top 10 US container ports – but that’s an improvement from May’s 20.1% drop and April’s 21.6% deficit.

The advisor expects August to see the last of the double-digit declines in a row as comparisons begin to reflect the start of normalization in trading after the post-pandemic surge.

Additionally, some transpacific carriers are more optimistic that demand will pick up at least somewhat for the remainder of the peak season.

In announcing its preliminary second-quarter results, U.S. domestic and transpacific carrier Matson said it expected “a subdued peak season” and claimed its service from China to the U.S. West Coast was “nearly full” during the peak period.

“We continue to expect trading momentum to gradually improve for the remainder of the year as the transpacific market transitions to more normal levels of consumer demand and retail inventories,” said Matt Cox, chairman and CEO of Matson.

Xeneta’s XSI component from Asia to the US West Coast is up 23% this week to $1,790 per 40 feet, and the average price on the route is up 40% so far this month.

Still, part of this week’s significant increase could be attributed to the strike situation at container ports on Canada’s west coast, which has already resulted in shipping companies conducting a series of diversions and empty runs and postponing the departure of ships from Asia to the following week.

And for the US East Coast, there were also positive signs for shipping companies, for example Drewry’s WCI Asia to US East Coast rose 7% to $2,906 per 40 feet.

Elsewhere, prudent capacity management by carriers from Asia to Northern Europe appears to have stabilized rates, with, for example, the Freightos Baltic Index (FBX) Northern Europe remaining flat at an average price of $1,285 per 40 feet. According to the data, activities in the market are led by MSC, Evergreen, ONE and Maersk’s digital platform, Twill The Loadstars Contacts to shippers and carriers.

Meanwhile, spot fares on Asia-Mediterranean trades are showing signs of weakness due to capacity growth from vessel upgrades and new services, although they still represent a significant premium compared to Northern European fares.

The Asia-Mediterranean WCI was down 2% this week to $1,902 per 40 feet.

Earlier this week, Maersk announced an increase in its Asia-Mediterranean FAK rates, taking effect next month, which will result in shippers paying $3,600 per 40 feet in some Mediterranean ports.

On the transatlantic trade, the weekly price decline continues, leaving spot prices well below pre-pandemic levels. The WCI average price for Northern Europe to the US East Coast fell another 7% this week to $1,640 per 40 feet, despite the market touting prices of $1,300 or less.

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