- Asia-Europe rates see uptick
- Asia-Mediterranean rates dip further
Box rates on the Asia-Europe trade run rebounded over the course of the week, gaining 8% due to tightness in vessel capacity.
“Vessel space is lacking at the moment, we are seeing vessels full until the third week of April, so there are chances that carriers will try to push for further rate increases for April voyages,” a logistics source said.
The tightness was mainly the result of capacity management rather than actual demand. Ocean carriers continue to blank more sailings and suspend sailing loops to bring capacity in line with demand. Vessels on some of the key Asia-Europe routes reportedly sailed at close to full capacity, prompting carriers to push up spot rates.
Platts Container Rate 1 -- North Asia-to-North Continent – gained $100 on the week and was assessed at $1,325 /FEU on March 31.
“There are still some promotional rates as low as $1,200 being offered in the market, but rates for April are likely to increase”, a freight forwarder source said.
Meanwhile, in Asia-Mediterranean markets, box rates saw minor downward adjustments, with a 2% decline observed over the week. Despite sustained healthy demand, spot rates felt further on downward pressure as carriers continue to inject more capacity to the region to benefit from relatively stronger market conditions.
In terms of demand, outlook for the near term remained gloomy despite a minor uptick in cargo volumes. Some market players anticipate a rebound in shipping volumes during the latter half of the year, while others are predicting another subdued peak season.
“Volumes have picked up for some of our customers, but overall demand remains weak. Inventory levels are still high in Europe, so we are not expecting a peak season as such, just a regular flow of cargo”, a second logistics source said.
On the congestion side, things have largely returned to prepandemic levels and port operations have improved significantly. However, the persistent threat of further labor strikes in countries like Germany and France could result in extensive disruptions to European supply chains.
PCR 3 -- North Asia-to-Mediterranean -- lost 2% on the month and was assessed at $2,250/FEU on March 31.
Platts is part of S&P Global Commodity Insights.