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The bullish container freight and charter markets continue to gain ground with carriers pushing for further rate hikes through May while demand for ships remain unabated. Over-capacity concerns are on the backburner with containership diversions to the Cape route effectively removing more than 7% of the total fleet. New tonnage requirements have shifted to the Mexico and Middle-East/Indian subcontinent markets, with 3 new services to Mexico launched in May alone by COSCO, CMA CGM and MSC while MSC has also converted a FE-USEC string to serve the Mexico and Caribbean market.

Freight futures rallied in a holiday shortened trading week, with the collapse of the Middle East peace talks pushing up expectations of further rate gains in the next 2 months to North Europe with capacity utilisation hitting a 3 year high on this route.

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Red Sea containership transits continue despite heightened risks
Containerships are still making transits on the Suez/Bab-el-Mandeb despite heightened risks following the collapse of ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas and the escalation of the Houthi attacks on commercial shipping on the Red Sea which has widened to the Indian Ocean. Over 90 transits on the Bab-el-Mandeb has been recorded since 1 April 2024, mainly by smaller carriers operating in the Asia-Med and Baltic Sea routes, compared to over 700 voyages diverted to the Cape route in the same period.

CMA CGM remains the only mainline carrier to retain selective Red Sea transits with 3 of its ships on Asia-Med services operated within the OCEAN Alliance and 1 ship on the Europe-India route making the passage last month, with 2 more scheduled in the coming week.

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