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Freight Market Update: March 1, 2024

Shore crane loading containers in freight ship

Ocean freight market update

China-North America

  • Rate changes: The latest data reveals a modest reduction in ocean freight rates from Asia to North America. Specifically, West Coast prices have decreased by 2% while East Coast rates have seen a 1% decline. This trend suggests a gradual return to stability in the market as it emerges from the fluctuations associated with the Chinese New Year holiday.
  • Market changes: The market is demonstrating resilience, with signs of stabilization as it adjusts to the post-holiday demand and navigates through the complexities of global geopolitical tensions. Carriers are focusing on stability and adaptation by adjusting schedules and increasing vessel speeds. Despite impacts from other trade lanes, overall demand is expected to ease post Lunar New Year, potentially leading carriers to adjust capacity through blank sailings to manage rate fluctuations.   


  • Rate changes: Freight rates from Asia to Europe are on a downward trajectory, indicating a shift towards market equilibrium following a period of volatility. Rates to Northern Europe have decreased by 1%, and rates to the Mediterranean have dropped significantly by 10%. This adjustment reflects the market’s response to changing supply and demand dynamics, although the overall rates are persisting at multiples of last December’s level
  • Market changes: The geopolitical landscape, particularly the ongoing tensions and maritime security concerns in the Red Sea, has led to a noticeable increase in insurance premiums for vessels navigating these waters. This development is contributing to heightened operational costs for shippers and carriers alike. In addition, the transforming competitive landscape within the intra-European market, driven by the strategic expansion of major ocean carriers such as MSC, CMA CGM, and Maersk, is expected to have a lasting impact on rate trends and market dynamics, potentially leading to more stable and predictable freight rates in the region.

Air freight/Express market update

China-US and Europe

  • Rate changes: The air freight sector is experiencing varied rate trends, with a notable increase in rates from China to North America, which have surged by 32%. This increase is indicative of a rebound in demand within this corridor. In contrast, rates from China to Northern Europe have decreased by 8%, signaling a realignment of supply with demand and a stabilization of market rates after a period of adjustment.
  • Market Changes: The air freight industry is in a state of flux, grappling with the dual challenges of geopolitical tensions and the explosive growth of e-commerce. These factors are reshaping demand patterns and exerting pressure on the industry to adapt. Additionally, the market is witnessing a significant recovery in belly capacity, which, when combined with the increased deployment of freighters during the pandemic, has led to a scenario of excess capacity in certain markets. This development is exerting downward pressure on yields, although there are signs of yield stabilization towards the end of the year, driven in part by shifts from maritime to air freight in response to disruptions in ocean shipping.

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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