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Freight Market Update: February 2, 2024

Large container vessel ship passing suez canal

Ocean freight market update

China-North America

  • Rate changes: Ocean freight rates from China to the US West Coast increased by 38% to $4,099/FEU, while rates to the US East Coast climbed 21% to $6,152/FEU. The rate increase was more pronounced for the West Coast compared to the East Coast. This rise can be attributed to operational challenges and increased demand approaching the Lunar New Year. However, there’s a possibility that rates may approach their ceiling, with potential stabilization expected post-Lunar New Year.
  • Market changes: The Red Sea crisis has led to widespread diversions from the Suez Canal, affecting ocean carriers’ operations. As a result, carriers have omitted some port calls in the Red Sea and Middle East, and also at some Mediterranean ports. This situation has led to inventory shortages for European importers due to delayed shipments. The increase in operational complexity has pushed some shippers towards alternative options like rail or sea-air logistics.


  • Rate changes: Rates from China to North Europe fell slightly by 1% to $5,456/FEU, and to the Mediterranean by 5% to $6,449/FEU. This stabilization comes after a period of rate increases, reflecting the flat demand in Europe influenced by inflation and high inventory levels. While short-term spikes have occurred, the longer-term outlook suggests potential stability in rates.
  • Market changes: The Red Sea crisis has caused a spike in shipping costs from the Far East to Europe by more than 200% in the first 52 days of the crisis, surpassing the rate increase during the initial days of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has led to an adjustment in carrier operations, with some emphasis on diversifying shipping options to maintain supply chain fluidity.

Air freight/Express market update

China-US and Europe

  • Rate changes:  Air freight rates from China to North America have increased modestly, while those to Europe have shown a decrease. This variation aligns with current demand situations, with a general decrease observed in global airfreight rates through the period.
  • Market changes: The global air cargo demand in January was significantly higher than last year, except for ex-North America traffic. The disruptions in the Red Sea have led to a threefold increase in ocean freight spot rates from Asia to Europe, although air cargo rates remained relatively stable globally. Expectations of a post-Lunar New Year market shift are prevalent, potentially influencing future rate trends.

Disclaimer: All information and views in this post are provided for reference purposes only and do not constitute any investment or purchase advice. The information quoted in this report is from public market documents and may be subject to change. Alibaba.com makes no warranties or guarantees for the accuracy or integrity of the information above.

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