Drewry said its Hong Kong-to-Los Angeles container rate benchmark, published in the latest Container Freight Rate Insight report, jumped 14 percent to $2,524 per 40-foot container this week.
The London-based firm said the $311 per 40-foot box increase in the benchmark rate shows that members of the Transpacific Stabilization Agreement achieved around 50 percent of their $600 target for a peak season surcharge.
“Cargo demand and carrier load factors have strengthened in the run up to Chinese New Year,” explained Martin Dixon, Drewry’s research manager for freight rate benchmarking. “The wild card remains the threat of strike action at U.S. East Coast and Gulf Coast ports which is also serving to strengthen rates.”
Drewry said the latest price increase brought Drewry’s Hong Kong-to-Los Angeles container rate benchmark back to the same level it was at in October, but the index remains 12 percent off last year’s peak reached in August.
"The transpacific has proved more resilient than the Asia-Europe trade to the overcapacity plaguing the industry," Drewry said. "Transpacific Eastbound Freight Rate Index, a weighted average of freight rates across multiple trades between Far East Asia and North America, climbed 8 percent in December compared with the previous month, to reach $3,357 per 40 foot container. It now stands just 2 percent off last year’s high reached in September 2012.
"However, given the increase in capacity on the trade compared with a year ago the stability in spot rates may not prove sustainable," Drewry added.
“The U.S. East Coast and Gulf Coast strike threat notwithstanding, we expect spot rates to soften following Chinese New Year,” Dixon said. “However, we caution that shippers should expect some increase in their 2012-13 contract rates on the eastbound transpacific, given the stronger state of the market compared to last year." - Chris Dupin