Spot freight rates on the westbound Asia-Europe trade dropped by 3.2 percent this week from the week before as the euro crisis continues to depress demand and vessel overcapacity blunted carrier efforts to raise rates.
The World Container Index of spot prices for shipments from Shanghai to Rotterdam, fell by $41 this week to $1,239 per 40-foot equivalent unit. The WCI increased by $1 per FEU last week after falling in the two previous weeks after the Chinese New Year.
The WCI, which is compiled by a joint venture between Drewry Shipping Consultants and the Cleartrade Exchange, is 52 percent lower this week than in the same week last year, when it was $2,583 per FEU.
Most major carriers have announced either rate or surcharge hikes of $700 to $800 per 20-foot equivalent unit to be applied on Asia-Europe services starting March 1.
But many shippers doubt the increases that will double rates will take, even if lines more aggressively idle or slow vessels.