Average spot prices for shipping containers from Asia to Europe jumped 30.3 percent in the first week of the New Year as vessel capacity tightened and importers hurried to book space in advance of the factory shutdowns before the early Lunar New Year on Jan. 12.
The World Container Index for shipping a 40-foot equivalent container unit from Shanghai to Rotterdam climbed to $1,230 from $944 per FEU last week. The index has mostly been increasing from week to week since the first week in December, when it was $869 per FEU, down 69.1 percent from the same week a year earlier.
Spot rates have also increased this week on the trans-Pacific, where the Drewry benchmark for shipping an FEU from Hong Kong to Los Angeles jumped 27.6 percent week-over-week.
Capacity on the major east-west trade lanes has tightened slightly since the end of the peak season as carriers have suspended some services for the slack winter season and combined other services. But carriers have not yet laid up ships to any significant extent as they did in 2009.
The WCI, a joint venture between Drewry Shipping Consultants and the Cleartrade Exchange in Singapore, publishes container freight rate indexes on 11 east-west trade routes. The WCI for Shanghai to Rotterdam excludes terminal handling charges. It is designed as a pricing mechanism for the settlement of derivative trades and hedging and can also be used as a reference point for index-based contracts.