FILE PHOTO: The CMA CGM Marco Polo, an Explorer class container ship crosses under the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge, to enter New York Harbor as seen from Brooklyn, New York, U.S., May 20, 2021. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

Containership Charter Rates Fall for First Time in 16 Months

Mike Schuler
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October 29, 2021

Containership charter rates fell for the first time in at least 16 months in what could be the first sign of container freight rates easing.

This is according to the HARPEX index produced by German shipbroker HARPER PETERSEN (HARPER PETERSEN Charter Rates Index), which reflects worldwide container ship charter market pricing based on actual weekly fixture reports.

The index is provided weekly based on rate assessments for nine classes of ships based on TEU size. This week, the overall index fell to 3,936 after spending two weeks at 3,999. The chart below shows the performance over the last 24 months:

Courtesy Harper Peterson

The decline marked the first since June 2020 when the HARPEX hit a low of 412, just as economies began recovering from COVID-19 shutdowns and the pandemic changed the way we live, work and shop. Since then, the index has climbed about 870%, reflective of soaring freight rates that are hitting the bottom lines of businesses and driving inflation.

But if you’re looking at this HARPEX dip as a sign that shipping may be returning to normal… think again. The HARPEX this week shows the rates for the biggest class of ships (>8,500 TEU) remains unchanged at $129,000 per day and one of the world’s top freight forwarders says the current rate environment is likely to last “a very very long time.”

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