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Asia-Europe box trade bounces back

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Shanghai-Rotterdam surges nearly 14% as lines stall ships to squeeze out supply

The Shanghai to Rotterdam element of Drewry’s World Container Index jumped 13.8% last week, to US$2,727 per feu, after falling back by a similar number around the Christmas period.

The rise is evidence that the lines’ strategy of stalling ships in Asia to squeeze out supply has worked.

Elsewhere, the troubled Asia-Mediterranean trade lane also saw significant gains with Drewry’s index for Shanghai to Genoa recording a $342 per feu gain on the week to $2,523.

The blanking or voiding of voyages seems to have had the desired effect. Reports are coming in that ships are leaving Asia for Europe around 95% full in the cargo rush ahead of Chinese new year commencing February 10.

Maersk Line’s north Asia chief executive Tim Smith has gone on record to say that balancing supply and demand “is the game we need to play again in 2013”.

“We had too much cargo in the last few weeks [of 2012] that we had to roll containers back to sailings,” Smith said.

“We’ve been on a real rollercoaster,” he said no doubt referring to the $600 million net loss his company made in the first quarter of 2012 only to be turned around in the third quarter by the posting of a $500 million profit.

“We should never be too confident in these challenging times, but it’s certainly looking more optimistic than it has been for awhile,” said Smith.

Source : Lloyd’s Loading


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