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August 17 2020

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10 The Journal of Commerce | August 17 2020 Cover Story www.joc.com CARRIERS, PORTS, AND forwarders say the current spike in US imports from Asia that began in early July will last at least through August, but their vision is blurred beyond that. Some stakeholders, including the importers themselves, say US inbound volumes from Asia will remain at current levels through Sep- tember, while others forecast a dip in late August followed by a short peak season in late September. "We're getting clients calling regularly saying they are upping their forecasts, that they are not going to be able to get additional space at the rates they contracted for, so [these large benefi cial cargo owners] are looking for spot-market space, and for an extended period of time," said Kurt McElroy, executive vice presi- dent of Apex Maritime. After an unusually large increase in spot rates at the beginning of August, carriers and forwarders seem to agree, however, that spot rates in the eastbound trans-Pacifi c will stay around $3,000 per FEU to the US West Coast and $3,400 per FEU to the East Coast through September as carriers continue to manage capacity. In the week that ended July 31, the Asia-US West Coast spot rate surged 17.1 percent from the pre- vious week to $3,167 per FEU, while pricing to the East Coast increased 6.9 percent to $3,495 per FEU, according to the Shanghai Container- ized Freight Index (SCFI), published weekly in the JOC Shipping & Logistics Pricing Hub. The uncertainty that marks cargo forecasting in the largest US trade lane is primarily a refl ection of con- sumer purchasing habits, which have not followed normal seasonal trends due to the impact of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Merchan- dise involving stay-at-home activities — from offi ce and school necessities Cresting wave Asia-US import surge, tight capacity to last into August By Bill Mongelluzzo

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