Will Asia-Europe price-leap stick?

10/31/2012

The latest SCFI Asia-Europe component spot rate, published 26 October, leapt by over 22% on the previous week to US$1,315/teu as a 1 November GRI applied by carriers hit the market.

But the market view is that this sharp upturn in container shipping tariffs, after many weeks of decline, may be short-lived. 

Clarkson Securities estimates that about 50% of the target level (of the GRI) was achieved and says more could come next week. 

"The majority of the increase is probably reflected in the market now. Usually, there is another small upwards movement the week after the main part of the GRI, so we might expect to see up to another $50/teu or so this Friday. After that, rates are likely erode again," said David Barnes, a Container Freight Derivatives broker at the company. 

However, what was more important was whether the underlying market fundamentals were in any way suggestive of giving support to freight rates on the Asia/Europe trade. 

"Currently this is hard to reconcile given the still weak macro demand picture and continuing overhang of supply." 

Interestingly, forward prices have not overreacted to the Index and present a more bearish view of the winter with offers remaining around $1,350 for Nov/Dec and $1,400 for Q1 2013, Barnes added. 

Meanwhile, in its Container Weekly Report, ACM/GFI, said that feedback from customers indicated that some carriers had moderated the November GRI by around 50%. 

The broker went on to underline that it would be surprising, therefore, to see a significant increase in this week’s SCFI following last week’s $241/teu hike. 

The central question preoccupying the market now is will enough capacity come out of the Asia-Europe trade this quarter for the GRI, to stick, even partially? Or is the familiar pattern of GRI/rate collapse, seen during the peak season, going to re-assert itself?