The Drewry Container Rate Benchmark for eastbound trans-Pacific shipping climbed 8.9 percent in the week ending Monday, the second week-to-week increase in the last three weeks.
The gain, signaling new pricing strength for ocean carriers at the end of the peak season contracting period, pushed the benchmark for spot container rates from Hong Kong to Los Angeles to $1,953 per 40-foot equivalent unit in the week ending May 1, up $158 from the week before.
The gain was only the second since the beginning of the year but also the second since the Drewry benchmark reached a 53-week low of $1,693 at the end of March.
By The Numbers:
Container Rate Benchmark
The increase comes as trans-Pacific carriers and shippers still are negotiating the annual contracts for the trade lane for the fall shipping season. Those contracts generally are signed by May 1, but shippers and carriers say talks have been protracted this year and most contracts remain unsettled.
Although the benchmark was up week-to-week as of May 1, it was still 10.8 percent lower than the rate in the same week a year earlier when it was $2,189 per FEU.
Drewry bases its eastbound benchmark rate on an average of spot rates it collects from non-vessel-operating common carriers in Hong Kong each week.
Eastbound spot freight rates only apply to about 10 percent of trans-Pacific container volume, since most cargo is priced at a rate set under the annual contracts.