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US-Asia box space shrinks ahead of Lunar New Year

ASIA is suffering from tight vessel space following the second consecutive week of spot rate hikes in the eastbound Pacific trades

US-Asia box space shrinks ahead of Lunar New Year

ASIA is suffering from tight vessel space following the second consecutive week of spot rate hikes in the eastbound Pacific trades

08 January 2019 - 19:00

ASIA is suffering from tight vessel space following the second consecutive week of spot rate hikes in the eastbound Pacific trades. Importers are bracing for further capacity restrictions and even higher rates in the runup to the Chinese New Year on February 5.

'It's getting a little bit tighter out of China,' a non-vessel-operating common carrier was quoted as saying in a report by IHS Media. Although carriers have dropped their peak season surcharges, some have filed for US$400 general rate increases (GRIs) effective January 1, he said.



Also, three container line executives said ships are leaving Asia with high utilisation rates. One executive pointed out that the early December dip in spot rates didn't truly reflect slot tightness that has become more prevalent in the last two weeks.



Containerised imports since summer have been at record and near-record levels but are likely to begin falling from January, according to the monthly Global Port Tracker published by the US National Retail Federation.



Import volumes were up 14 per cent in November and an estimated 6.1 per cent in December. However, they are expected to fall with year-on-year imports forecast to decrease by 2.1 per cent in January, one per cent in February and 1.7 per cent in March, according to the Global Port Tracker.



Over the past two weeks east coast spot rates surged 13.4 per cent to $3,119 per FEU, while the west coast rate increased 9.6 per cent to $1,933 per FEU, according to the Shanghai Containerised Freight Index.



The east coast spot rate on Friday was four per cent higher than last week and the west coast rate was 2.7 per cent higher. This was the second straight week that rates increased from the normal seasonal lull in December. Spot rates are expected to climb into early February before many factories in Asia close for at least a week or two for the Chinese New Year, IHS Media reported.


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