SCFI hits new record high

The Shanghai Containerized Freight Index (SCFI) – the benchmark liner spot reference – hit a new all-time record on Friday of 2,980 points, up 5.2% week-on-week, with the average spot price per teu around the world now hitting $2,980 per teu, likely smashing the $3,000 mark this week.

The most eye-catching gains were on the Shanghai – US West Coast route, where spot rates leapt 12% week-on-week.

Other indices all point at record liner earnings on the spot market. For instance, the Platts Global Container Index, a weighted average of all Platts’ assessed routes, has grown 337% year-on-year to hit $4,412 per feu as of last Friday.

Rates had been easing from record highs in January for two months, but then the delays brought about by the blockage of the Suez Canal sparked another rates rally this month.

Strong spot earnings have also forced shippers’ hands, signing highly elevated annual contract terms.

The red-hot markets have seen secondhand boxship prices soar, while charter rates are also in record territory.

The going charter rate for an 8,500 teu ship stood at $54,000 a day as of last Friday, with 4,250 teu ships commanding $42,000 a day and 2,500 teu vessels able to bag $28,000 a day.

“Port congestion and delays at both origins and destinations are expected to make the container shortage in Asia worse over the next few weeks, before easing in early June,” commented Judah Levine, research lead at box booking platform Freightos on the current supply chain issues facing the liner shipping business.

The sensational start to the year in terms of carrier fortunes was well illustrated on Friday when Cosco subsidiary, OOCL, released its Q1 results. The Hong Kong liner reported total volumes were up 23.8% year-on-year, revenues up by a staggering 96% to $3.02bn for the three-month period. OOCL’s overall average revenue per teu increased by 58.3% compared to the first quarter of last year.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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