Nicole Johnson-Barnes, CFA
Senior Research Analyst, Global Equities
In late March, one of the busiest waterways in the world came to a standstill after the Ever Given, a 1,300-foot container ship, became lodged in the Suez Canal. Nearly 30% of the world’s daily shipping container freight passes through the Suez Canal, and with supply chains already disrupted amid the COVID pandemic, the timing could not have been worse. While only a one-week stoppage, with approximately 7% of the world’s oil and 12% of global goods trade flowing through the canal, it is estimated that each day lost delayed more than $9 billion worth of goods.¹
In this Chart of the Week, we analyze the impact that the Suez Canal closure had on maritime shipping costs and the contribution to inflation. The chart above shows the daily price movement of the Shanghai Containerized Freight Index (SCFI). As one of many proxies for global trade and ocean freight health, the SCFI reflects the weekly shipping spot rates of Shanghai container exports along 15 major trade routes, including Shanghai to the United States (east and west coasts), Europe, South Africa, and South America. In contrast to the highly-cited China Containerized Freight Index (CCFI), the SCFI focuses solely on exports in these 15 individual trade routes, rather than nationwide import and export container transport, which would include more contractual and futures rates. Rates surged throughout 2020 amid increasing demand for goods over services and tighter supply. The blockage, which may take months to fully recover from, combined with pent-up demand and economic re-openings has exacerbated the imbalance and sent SCFI spot shipping costs up another 20% over the last month. Rising inflation has been an increasing concern for investors this year and, given current dynamics, we do not expect the contribution from higher global shipping rates to abate anytime soon.
¹Lloyd’s List Intelligence
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