Ocean freight rates rise to five-year high


Asia-Europe ocean freight spot prices climbed again last week, taking average global prices to a five-year high, analysis by Drewry reveals, as ongoing capacity reductions propelled spot rates higher and higher.

As demand in Europe continued to recover in a container shipping market with still constrained capacity, rates on the Shanghai to Rotterdam and Shanghai to Genoa trades gained 11% and 9%, respectively, week on week, according to the World Container Index assessed by Drewry. Following the gains, Shanghai to Rotterdam spot rates are now 26% higher than a year ago while and Shanghai to Genoa spot rates are up 25%, year on year.

On the transpacific trade, after several weeks of gains, Shanghai to Los Angeles spot rates fell 9% last week to $2,467 per feu, although they remain 68% higher than a year ago. And after strong gains last week, Shanghai to New York average spot rates were flat last week at $3,196/feu, 30% higher than a year ago.

Freight rates on Rotterdam to Shanghai nudged up by 1% to $1,229 per feu. However, rates on transatlantic routes declined last week, with prices from Rotterdam to New York dwindling 5% – a decline of $134 to $2,443 for a 40ft box. Similarly, New York to Rotterdam average prices dropped 2% to $509 per 40ft container.

Reflecting these overall gains, Drewry noted that its composite World Container Index, of eight major East-West trades combined, reached a five-year high of $1,885 per 40ft container, up 1% from the previous week and 39.3% up compared with same period of 2019, “as ongoing capacity reductions propelled spot rates higher and higher”.

The average composite index of the WCI, assessed by Drewry for year-to-date, is $1,628 per 40ft container, which is $236 higher than the five-year average of $1,392 per 40ft container.

Drewry expects rates to remain stable in the coming week.