Container shipping’s “rate uncertainty” has impact on futures market

The analysis comes as carriers and shippers prepare for new contract negotiations.

By ·

The uncertainty over the level of container freight rates in the next few months has severely disrupted trading on the freight futures market, said analysts at the Paris-based consultancy, Alphaliner.

Volumes traded at the Shanghai Shipping Freight Exchange (SSEFC), the most active market for container freight futures, crashed to their lowest levels since the trading of container freight futures started at the Chinese exchange on 28 June 2011.

The analysis comes as carriers and shippers prepare for new contract negotiations. A general rate increase (GRI) is anticipated by both parties.

Average daily volumes traded from 2 to 8 February fell to only 15,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) compared to the 169,000 teu average recorded for January. Forward freight rates hit their 5 percent daily cap on four consecutive trading days during that period as the market struggled to find an equilibrium following the surprise announcements by shipping lines of rate increases ranging from $400-900/teu on the Far East-Europe
trade and $800/forty-foot equivalent unit (feu) on the Transpacific trade. On 3 February, only 74 teu was traded on all Shanghai to Europe future freight contracts as market players refrained from selling forward rates due to the market uncertainty.

“Trading volumes will remain highly volatile in the next few weeks, as forward rates are expected to see wild swings as the market continues to digest the carriers’ GRI announcements,” said Alphaliner’s commercial director, Stephen Fletcher,

Forward rates to North Europe have seen a steep increase, with April contracts currently trading at $1,078/teu, rising by 54 percent from a low of $700/teu in January.

“Despite this, the carriers’ bid to raise rates is still far from assured,” said Fletcher.


About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at [email protected]

Subscribe to Logistics Management Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Article Topics

All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
Is Your Logistics Strategy Keeping Pace with Your Manufacturing Efficiency?
U.S. manufacturers continue to invest in world-class technology and innovation, as a growing number of businesses choose to expand U.S.-based production — or return manufacturing from Asia.
Download Today!
From the April 2017 Issue
While adoption rates have remained relatively flat, yard management systems (YMS) are helping logistics operations turn that important space between the loading dock and the gate into a vital link in the supply chain.
Information Management: Wearables come in for a refit
2017 Air Cargo Roundtable: Positive Outlook Driven by New Demand
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Maximize Your LTL Driver Adherence with Real-time Feedback
This webinar shows how companies are using real-time performance data to optimize the scheduling of their city fleets, as well as the routing of their standard, accelerated and time-critical shipments.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
2017 Salary Survey: Fresh Voices Express Optimism
Our “33rd Annual Salary Survey” reflects more diversity entering the logistics management...
LM Exclusive: Major Modes Join E-commerce Mix
While last mile carriers receive much of the attention, the traditional modal heavyweights are in...

ASEAN Logistics: Building Collectively
While most of the world withdraws inward, Southeast Asia is practicing effective cooperation between...
2017 Rate Outlook: Will the pieces fall into place?
Trade and transport analysts see a turnaround in last year’s negative market outlook, but as...