Container freight rates are falling, but what will be the floor?

The Clarksons charter rate index is currently 246 points, remaining more than four times the 2019 average. However, the index dropped 26% week-on-week last week.

Analysts at Braemar describe the rapidity with which the market turned as “astonishing”. Over the past four weeks, the overall SCFI spot rate index has dropped 33%, making it the second largest four-week drop since the beginning of the SCFI index in 2009, according to analysis from Vespucci Maritime.

According to SCFI, the average freight rate from the world’s largest container port, Shanghai, to worldwide destinations is now $2,500 per TEU, half of the peak seen early in the year.

The current index value is still well above the “pre-corona crisis” levels, however, Sea-Intelligence predicts forthcoming freight rates falling below the pre-crisis norm.

HSBC experts also expect further rate cuts due to reduced demand but believe that they are unlikely to fall below the pre-pandemic levels.

Last week, the first signs of a falling market appeared in the shipbuilding industry with Splash reporting Seaspan’s decision to cancel four 7,700 TEU newbuilds it had contracted in South Korea to construct.