FREIGHT rates have continued to decline on all the major trades this week as container lines look to November and the latest round of recommended general rate increases. Carriers pushing for rises of up to nearly $1,000 per teu on the Asia-Europe trade are hoping to repeat last year’s successful GRIs when rates jumped some 123% from $670 to $1,423.
A rise in box prices cannot come soon enough. The latest Shanghai Containerised Freight Index shows that on Asia-Europe routes, prices have slipped to yet another yearly low, by $8, or 1.1%, to $697. That is the index’s lowest level since October 2013. On the Mediterranean trade, rates stood at $936 per teu this week, down $29, or 3%, on last week’s SCFI price.
Meanwhile, rates to US west coast and US east coast destinations remained relatively flat this week, with spot prices dipping 1.4% and 0.7%. Prices to the US west coast were recorded at $2,139 per feu and to the east coast at $4,119 per feu, according to the SCFI. Despite the declines reported on the major trades, the SCFI Comprehensive Index rose slightly by 4.59 points, or 0.5%, to 967.31 points, following hikes in rates from Asia to the Middle East Gulf.
Rates on these routes increased $146, or 22.4%, to $798 following the partial success of GRIs from carriers operating in the region. This week’s Hong Kong-Los Angeles container freight rate benchmark published by Drewry remained unchanged at $1,975 per feu. However, Drewry expects pricing to be stable in the coming weeks as service suspensions and missed sailings compensate for a seasonal drop in cargo volumes.