Port of Los Angeles

Container shipping spot freight rates on the chief east-west trades turned a corner this week, with near double-digit gains on the transpacific and ;Asia-North Europe headhaul legs.

After the best part of a year in the rate doldrums, transpacific carriers were finally delivered some pre-Christmas cheer as the Asia-US west coast spot rate rose 9.7% on last week to end the week on $1,183 per feu.

A similar rise was seen on routes to the east coast, which saw a 9% increase to $1,967 per feu.

Today’s rates are, however, far below 2017 peaks on both legs – these were seen as far back as January, when the west coast hit $2,211 per feu and the east coast $3,647.

The gains registered in Shanghai this morning were most likely a short-term fillip, responding to the general rate increases (GRIs) of between $600 and $1,000 per feu introduced by Transpacific Stabilization Agreement (TSA) carriers from today until 1 January.

Liner consultancy Alphaliner predicted this week that the gains were likely to be short-lived unless they were supported by capacity withdrawals. It noted that there was currently 9.5% more capacity deployed on the routes than this time last year.

Nonetheless, carriers have begun to announce new GRIs for the beginning of next year. This week Hapag-Lloyd said it would introduce a $700 per feu hike in the middle of January.

Meanwhile, there was a 6.7% increase in spot rates from Shanghai to North Europe, with the week finishing at $801 per teu, while rates to Mediterranean ports remained flat at $596 per teu.

Carriers have now begun to look at increasing their rates at the beginning of next year on the Asia-Europe routes, prior to Chinese New Year.

CMA CGM yesterday said it would introduce an FAK rate of $950 per teu and $1,800 per 40ft on shipments from Asia to North Europe on 1 January.

In other news, the ongoing financial and operating recovery of Yang Ming continued this week. Fresh from a new cash injection of $343.4m, the Taiwanese carrier said it was developing a new regional strategy, in conjunction with Taiwan International Ports Corp, to strengthen its presence in South-east Asia.

And, according to this report from Splash247, it is also set to replace some 20 vessels with newer tonnage. The ships, ranging between 3,000 teu and 8,000 teu, will leave its fleet between now and the spring.

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