Container rates edged downward but overall were stable this week, showing that gains earlier in the month based on scheduled rate increases are holding, but tenuously.
West Coast rates dipped by $23, or less than 1 percent, per 40-foot container to $2,497 according to the Friday release of the Shanghai Containerized Freight Index. That means the carriers this week held on to the $299 in increases achieved this month, which was far short of the $600 per FEU they were aiming for in a planned Jan. 15 GRI but still represented a positive direction. That direction can't be said to have been reversed this week despite the slight dip. East Coast rates showed a similar pattern, losing $13 this week and thus holding on to the $312 per FEU in increases achieved this month.
Europe rates also were largely flat. Spot rates from Shanghai to Northern Europe were off $23 to $1,326 per 20-foot container, while rates to Mediterranean ports edged $10 lower to $1,301 per TEU. Both Europe rates slipped less than they did last week, indicating a slowing of negative momentum following modest gains associated with a mid-January GRI. "Compared to recent results, a largely slightly weaker set of SCFI assessments rates as a stable week," Clarkson's said in an analysis.
"At present it does not appear demand is outstripping supply, as shown by this week’s declines on the SCFI, and so questions remain as to how (demand) will be strong enough to support such increases in March. This is especially true once capacity is reintroduced following the Chinese New Year," ICAP said.