Ocean rates out of Asia stayed level this week, even as some manufacturing in China will stay open over Chinese New Year to meet still-surging demand.

With ocean delays and still-tight capacity, air cargo rates out of Asia climbed in the last few days before the holiday.

China-US rates:

China-US West Coast prices (FBX01 Daily) stayed level at $4,440/FEU. This rate is 194% higher than the same time last year.

China-US East Coast prices (FBX03 Daily) dipped 4% to $5,495/FEU, and are 92% higher than rates for this week last year.

Analysis

Ocean rates stayed stable but extremely elevated on all the major ex-Asia lanes in this last week before the Chinese New Year (CNY) holiday begins.

On lanes from Asia to Europe, slowing demand has likely helped keep rates more or less level for the past month, after spiking 265% from the end of October to mid-January.

But there are no such signs of easing demand on the transpacific, where sustained volumes and port congestion have factory-to-door delivery times reaching nine weeks compared to a more typical four to five. And this week the Federal Maritime Commission encouraged carriers to use West Coast ports other than Long Beach to help ease the pressure there.

Though retail import volumes to the US in January fell about 6% from their October peak, they are still extremely elevated compared to normal, with December’s confirmed volumes up 22% annually.

And while post-CNY February is normally the slowest month of the year, reports that many manufacturers in China will stay open over the holiday to keep up with demand suggests that the surge could persist through February and even beyond.

With air cargo capacity still tight and delays in ocean shipping, data from Freightos.com marketplace showed air cargo rates from China to US and European destinations climbed sharply this week in the final rush before the holiday.

- Judah Levine, Research Lead - FreightOS