Containership Charter Market Coming Back to Earth

There’s been a lot of speculation about when and how fast the container shipping market would return to pre-pandemic norms. Today there is more hard data indicating the pandemic-fueled bull has run its course.

The HARPEX index tracks pricing in the charter market for container ships on the basis of actual weekly fixtures.

It’s published weekly by German shipbroker HARPER PETERSEN and provides rate assessments in U.S. dollars for nine classes of ships, based on vessel sizes, as well as Harper Petersen’s own market assessment, i.e. the HARPEX

The latest HARPEX reading of 3,095 is down a massive 17% from the previous week, with declines recorded in all nine classes of ships.

Pulling the chart back a bit, you can see charter rates have now fallen by about 33% from the HARPEX’s all-time high reading of 4,586.25, which was recorded as recently as April.

As you can see in the chart above, the average reading over the last 24 months is 2,941.81, so charter rates are still slightly above the 24-month average.

The question now is how far will the market fall before finding a new post-pandemic bottom?

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