US inventory data provides no hint of spot rate rise

US inventory data provides no hint of spot rate rise

The US Census Bureau has indicated no evidence of a significant jump in container demand prior to the dramatic rise in container spot prices.

According to Sea-Intelligence, this data details both sales and inventory changes in the US up until the end of April 2024.

Sea-Intelligence’s Figure 1 illustrates how the general trend for all three categories of US sales stayed flat from the end of the pandemic to April 2024.

© Sea-Intelligence

READ: Spot box rates surge to pre-pandemic levels

Similarly, inventory by category and inventory-to-sales ratios do not deviate from long-term patterns, explained Sea-Intelligence.

This would have made it very difficult for carriers to proactively deploy more capacity in order to avoid capacity shortages and pricing increases.

According to Sea-Intelligence, this calls into question the premise that the present pricing spikes are exclusively the result of carriers purposefully manipulating the market to produce them.

Sea-Intelligence added that we are witnessing carriers intending to significantly expand capacity on the key East/West trades, as seen in Figure 2.

© Sea-Intelligence

READ: Asia-Europe spot rates to soar above 20,000 USD/FFE

Alan Murphy, CEO of Sea-Intelligence, said: “On Asia-Europe, a sharp capacity increase is planned for the first two weeks of July, but then abating down to a capacity growth of around 6 per cent year-on-year (YoY) for the rest of July and August.

“On Transpacific, not only do we see a sharp imminent increase in capacity growth, but also an intention by the carriers to sustain this high supply growth through to mid-August. The success of these capacity expansions – and their potential to alleviate market pressure – hinges on whether growing port congestion allows carriers to operate the envisioned vessels according to their planned sailing schedules.”

Recently, Sea-Intelligence reported that schedule reliability declined by 2.5 percentage points in April, reversing the previous trend of improvement.

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