Container Shipping Rates Ever More Volatile

The volatility of global container shipping spot freight rates since the start of 2015 has continued to increase in comparison to 2014, according to rate assessments on 11 routes gathered by the World Container Index (WCI), jointly owned by Drewry alongside Cleartrade Exchange.

Price turbulence on the globally important Asia to Europe routes has been particularly high in 2015 with monthly volatility increasing 43% on average in comparison to 2014.

The monthly volatility (a measure of how widely prices fluctuate in a 4 week period and therefore an indicator of the risk in a market) has increased by 14% on the WCI composite index, which is a weighted average of all 11 underlying routes in the first 20 weeks of 2015.

“The two most volatile routes among the 11 we track are Shanghai-Rotterdam and Shanghai-Genoa, with weekly rate increases of USD 1,000 or more seen during some weeks and monthly volatility of over 40% since the start of this year,” said Richard Heath, director of WCI.

Taking all routes into account, the WCI composite index went from USD 2,092 per 40ft container in late February to USD 1,263/40ft in late April, before increasing again to USD 1,611 on 14 May.

Philip Damas, director at Drewry, said: “The World Container Index assessed by Drewry tracks and documents what is an increasingly volatile market. The reduction of spot rates is welcome by most shippers, but many non-contract shippers are not currently equipped to cope with huge volatility in their freight costs.”


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