Signs of easing emerge in tight market for ocean freight Box rates are still five times higher than pre-pandemic levels
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Ocean freight rates on goods shipped to both major U.S. coasts from Asia fell to the lowest levels since July, reflecting an easing of supply strains after the pre-holiday shipping frenzy that fanned inflation fears in the world’s largest economy.

On the busy Shanghai-to-Los Angeles route, the spot rate for a 40-foot container sank 3.8% over the past week to $9,698, according to the Drewry World Container Index released Thursday. From Shanghai to New York, the price dropped 4.9% to $12,582. Both are still around five times higher than they were before the pandemic in January 2020.

Signs of Relief

Soaring Asia-to-U.S. container rates have returned to levels seen in July

Source: Drewry
*FEU=40-foot equivalent unit, a standard shipping container measure

Drewry said it expects rates to stay steady in the coming week, as delays at U.S ports keep shipping capacity tight. The Federal Reserve’s Beige Book report released on Wednesday noted that “high freight volumes continued to strain distribution systems,” and “contacts expected that demand in the coming months would continue to be stronger than the sector’s ability to meet it.”

That applied to other modes of freight transportation. “Air cargo carriers reported higher demand as the cost of container shipping exceeded air freight rates” in some instances, the Fed report said.

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