Spot freight rates on the westbound Asia-Europe trade lane rose 3 percent this week from the week before after Maersk Line announced plans to reduce vessel capacity on the route by 9 percent.
The World Container Index of spot prices for shipments from Shanghai to Rotterdam rose by $37 this week to $1,276 per 40-foot equivalent unit. The WCI fell by 3.2 percent, or $41 per FEU, to $1,239 last week after falling in most of the previous three weeks since the Chinese New Year.
Although there was no direct links betweeen Maersk’s Feb. 17 announcement on the trade lane and the rate gain, the mere sign that the Danish carrier will cut capacity set the tone for higher rates on the lane. Carriers have been hit by acute overcapacity and low freight rates on the world’s largest trade lane.
The WCI, which is compiled by a joint venture between Drewry Shipping Consultants and Singapore’s Cleartrade Exchange, is 48.6 percent lower this week than in the same week last year, when it was $2,482 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 have questioned whether those increases will stick.