Average eastbound trans-Pacific spot rates eased this week for the first time in four straight weeks as peak season demand waned and shippers stopped shifting inbound Asian cargo away from the East Coast in anticipation of possible labor action by the International Longshoremen’s Association.
The Drewry Container Rate Benchmark for shipping a 40-foot-equivalent container unit from Hong Kong to Los Angeles dropped 2.3 percent or $61 to $2,649 per FEU.
The Drewry benchmark had remained steady at $2,711 per FEU for the last four weeks before this week’s drop.
The peak season on the trans-Pacific was unusually early this year, with spot rates hitting their peak in August as importers stocked warehouses to the rafters to avoid getting caught short if the ILA and the U.S. maritime Alliance failed to agree on a new contract by Sept. 30, when the old one expired.
But now that the ILA and USMX have extended the old contract for 90 days, or past the peak season, the urgency has ended.
This week’s rate is $231 or 8 percent lower than this year’s peak rate of $2,880 per FEU in the second week of August. But it is still 78.3 percent higher than the rate of $1,486 per FEU in the same week last year.
The Hong Kong-Los Angeles benchmark is based on Drewry Shipping Consultants' research and derived from NVOCCs. The rate is in dollars and based on a full 40-foot container load, excluding terminal-handling charges in Hong Kong.