All-inclusive rates remain largely stable, but could see upside in March

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All-inclusive rates during the week ending Feb. 11 on the North Asia-to-North America lane were largely flat against last week’s indications as post-Lunar New Year demand began to pick up and market participants eye potential increases in late February and March.

And despite generally easing port congestion in the US, sources say stocks of rolled cargoes have jumped in North Asian-loading terminals, as carriers prioritize premium cargoes, which will put renewed pressure on available capacity.

“[I] anticipate it will grow in March because of big roll pools,” said a US carrier source. “There’s little strategy besides trying to remove roll pools, there’s only so many vessels and feeders can only hold so many containers,” the source said, adding that additional fuel and equipment imbalance surcharges are likely to be implemented in the coming weeks.

During the week, S&P Global Platts heard all-inclusive bookings from North Asia-to-USWC at around $12,000/FEU, although some NVO offers were heard at the $12,500/FEU level.

Cargoes bound for the East Coast maintained a positive spread, and settled with a floor of $12,500/FEU, with some offers heard at $14,000/FEU.

“Everyone in China thinks that it is going to come back strong,” a freight forwarder said.

Southeast Asia to the US softens

The all-inclusive premium rates for the Southeast Asia-North America trade lane inched lower during the week ending Feb. 11 amid the holiday slowdown.

The all-inclusive premium rates on the Southeast Asia-to-East Coast North America trade route were heard at $16,000-$20,000/FEU, a tad lower than a week ago. For West Coast, the rates remained in the $13,000-$17,000/FEU range, largely unchanged from last week.

“I recently heard that a booking was made at $12,000/FEU for Singapore to Savannah. This is way lower than the market rate, but it is very rare, too. It was offered by ZIM line, probably they had empty space that they desperately needed to fill, otherwise, this rate is unrealistic for the current situation,” a Singapore-based source said.

“The rates are expected to stay strong throughout 2022 due to firm demand from the US and congestion issues at major ports. I don’t see any respite in the situation anytime in [third quarter] or even Q4,” a carrier source based in India said.

The strength in volumes to the US has worsened equipment availability in other regions as not only do the carriers divert capacity from short-haul routes, but they have also started procuring the small and feeder vessels for the long haul, especially Asia-Europe, a freight forwarder based in India said.

“Rates from India to the US have risen by nearly 40% in one month to $14,000/FEU now, and even for India-Middle East, the sentiment is turning bullish, with a price hike expected in coming days,” the freight forwarder said.

Asia Westbound deals remain FAK

For the Asia Westbound trade lane, rates saw some downside over the course of the week, but these reductions all came on the Freight All Kind basis.

Platts Container Rate 3 — North Asia-to-Mediterranean — fell $500 to $14,000/FEU.

“Asia-to-Europe still isn’t seeing any premiums at the moment, unlike the trans-Pacific routes, we are still doing all our business FAK basis,” said a freight forwarder source.

Despite this, rumors remain in the market that premiums are being looked into and freight rates are expected to rise, however, limited movement has been seen on that front recently.

“Some liners have tried to implement premiums post-Lunar New Year, but that just hasn’t stuck, there’s still availability in March so that’s probably why,” the source continued.

Source: Platts

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