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FBX Index May: Market Summary

Non-stop demand, as well as the lingering impacts of the Suez blockage drove a 19% increase in the Freightos Baltic Global Container Index (FBX) in May to a new high of $5,230/FEU.

Delays – though not as severe as some had anticipated – and the resulting schedule disruptions and empty container shortage impacted prices on lanes most reliant on the Suez more severely.

Asia – Mediterranean rates were the first to cross the $10,000/FEU mark since the start of the pandemic, increasing 27% in May, and 44% since the start of the year. Asia – US East Coast rates climbed 18% to $7,328/FEU, and Asia – Europe prices increased 27%, closing the month at $9,871/FEU, more than six and a half times its level a year ago.

And sharp climbs in transatlantic rates – which until March had stayed mostly level during the pandemic – show just how interconnected the global container supply chain is.

Congested European ports, competition for equipment and some allocation of capacity to other lanes pushed Europe – US East Coast rates up 27% to $4,046/FEU and Europe – S. America East Coast prices climbed 35% to $2,054/FEU. Rates on both lanes have more than doubled since the start of the year.

With no easing in demand, Asia – US West Coast rates also increased, 11% for the month and 28% so far this year, to $5,379/FEU. And, as in most of the major lanes, actual costs for shippers to secure space can mean thousands more in premiums.

All indications, including a rapidly approaching peak season and still historically low retail inventory levels, suggest that we will likely not see a significant let up in volumes before the end of the year. And even when consumers start shifting spending to services again, restocking could keep container ships full for some time.
Source: The Baltic Briefing

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