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            july 24, 2019

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March container freight rate hike builds on February's recovery


Significant, albeit small, growth in European import and export activity, combined with increased Far East imports and continued growth in US exports triggered a moderate rise in global container freight rates in March.
The trend, identified in the latest XSI Public Indices report from Oslo-based Xeneta, builds on the positive rates development registered in Februrary, which reverses a decline that started in August 2018.
Xeneta, an ocean freight rate benchmarking and market analytics platform, produces the monthly XSI based on crowd-sourced rates data from the world's top shippers and freight forwarders. The data covers 160,000 port-to-port pairings, with 110 million data points, enabling the report to deliver insights into the latest global freight rate developments.
"This month's XSI Public Indices report appears to demonstrate the uplift the industry saw in February was not an anomaly," said CEO Patrik Berglund. "After a prolonged period of downward pressure on long-term rates they rose by 2.5 per cent last month and a further 0.5 per cent in March. Now those figures may not be big but after such a sustained decline, they are certainly significant.
"Because of the highly unpredictable nature of freight rate development - allied to on-going concerns over Brexit, geopolitics and the issue of fluctuating demand - it's impossible to say if that upward momentum can be maintained through April and beyond. However, it is positive, especially for selected regions and trade corridors."
Viewing the industry as a whole, XSI data shows a 0.6 per cent rates rise for the year to date, with the gains of the last two months only just offsetting January's decline. The US export indicator rose 1.6 per cent month on month, taking the index to its highest point since July 2017 (up 8.6 per cent since the start of the year), while the import benchmark fell 0.5 per cent.
Europe experienced an increase in both import and export rates, with exports up 1.4 per cent while imports were flat with only 0.1 per cent growth. The Far East import benchmark recorded strong growth of two per cent, but exports fell 0.5 per cent - the fourth consecutive month of rate declines. Despite this, the export index is up 0.4 per cent year on year.

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