Executive Briefings

Logistics Confidence Index Hits Lowest-ever Mark as Air, Sea Freight Shipments Slump

With a score of 45.4, the December edition of the Stifel Index has recorded its lowest-ever total, amidst a continued pattern of decline.

Of the four trade lanes covered by the Index, Europe-to-US continues to be the most positive, representing the highest-scoring route across both air and sea as well as current and expected situation, with continued strength of the US dollar against the euro helping to boost performance. By contrast, the performance of trade lanes between Europe and Asia, in both directions, continues to be poor.

Within the airfreight industry, increasing numbers of passenger planes, combined with what IATA has termed “a tough global economic environment and feeble world trade”, is resulting in increasingly poor load factors. Industry competitors have been somewhat protected by low fuel prices, but it is unclear how long this situation will persist. The underlying capacity problem, therefore, remains.

It is clear, however, that steps are now being taken to tackle the overcapacity crisis endemic in the shipping industry. Following news of Maersk committing to lay up an 18,000-TEU vessel last month, a different approach has also been demonstrated, with decisive consequences for the market and the main players within it. On Dec. 7, the world’s third-largest container shipping line, CMA CGM, agreed a deal with Temasek Holdings to acquire the struggling Neptune Orient Lines. Furthermore, news broke on Dec. 11 that Chinese authorities had given the green light for a merger between state-owned giants China Shipping and COSCO. The projected consequences of these deals will see the lines involved in the round of consolidation, along with industry leaders Maersk and Mediterranean Shipping Company, control nearly half of global container shipping capacity.

The total airfreight logistics confidence Index contracted by 2.3 points in December 2015, amounting to 46.6. The Index is 9.2 points lower than in December 2014, and 9.8 points lower than in December 2013. Regarding the present situation, the airfreight Index fell by 1.6 points to 43.8. Following a now well-established pattern, all lanes posted month-on-month declines with the exception of Europe-to-US, which gained 1.0 points to reach 57.4. By contrast, US-to-Europe stood at 42.6 after losing 3.5 points, whilst Asia-to-Europe and Europe-to-Asia lost 1.1 and 3.1 points respectively, totaling 41.3 and 34.8.

In the 6-month outlook, there were no exceptions to the pattern of decline that saw expectations fall 3.0 points to 49.3. Europe-to-Asia recorded the slightest change out of the four lanes, having fallen by 0.1 points to 47.4. Following this was US-to-Europe, which was down 1.5 points to 49.2. Whilst Europe-to-US stood out once more as a positive at 54.2 points, it also recorded a significant month on month decline of 4.6 points. Worse was Asia-to-Europe, which, at 46.9, had dropped below the 50 point mark by losing 5.5 points in December.

The logistics confidence Index for sea freight declined by 1.8 points to 44.3. Compared with the same month in 2014, the Index is 14.7 points lower, and it is also 14.3 points lower than in December 2013.

For the present situation, the Index fell 3.3 points to 40.7. All lanes noted declines in December, though Europe-to-US lost only 0.8 points, and therefore remained in a stronger position than the others at 55.0. Having declined by 4.7 points from November, Europe-to-Asia was the weakest of the lanes, and recorded a total of 32.9. Asia-to-Europe noted an even greater decline of 5.0 points, and stood at 36.1. US-to-Europe recorded a moderate loss of 2.6 points, which brought it to 40.4 overall.

The expected situation Index for sea freight was more positive than the present situation, with mixed results aggregating to a 0.2 point decline. Europe-to-US saw the most positive result, gaining 0.8 points to 56.9, whilst Asia-to-Europe similarly gained 0.7 points to score 47.8. Europe-to-Asia saw a 0.3 point decline to 44.7, but US-to-Europe was down 2.1 points to 42.7.

Source: Transport Intelligence

Of the four trade lanes covered by the Index, Europe-to-US continues to be the most positive, representing the highest-scoring route across both air and sea as well as current and expected situation, with continued strength of the US dollar against the euro helping to boost performance. By contrast, the performance of trade lanes between Europe and Asia, in both directions, continues to be poor.

Within the airfreight industry, increasing numbers of passenger planes, combined with what IATA has termed “a tough global economic environment and feeble world trade”, is resulting in increasingly poor load factors. Industry competitors have been somewhat protected by low fuel prices, but it is unclear how long this situation will persist. The underlying capacity problem, therefore, remains.

It is clear, however, that steps are now being taken to tackle the overcapacity crisis endemic in the shipping industry. Following news of Maersk committing to lay up an 18,000-TEU vessel last month, a different approach has also been demonstrated, with decisive consequences for the market and the main players within it. On Dec. 7, the world’s third-largest container shipping line, CMA CGM, agreed a deal with Temasek Holdings to acquire the struggling Neptune Orient Lines. Furthermore, news broke on Dec. 11 that Chinese authorities had given the green light for a merger between state-owned giants China Shipping and COSCO. The projected consequences of these deals will see the lines involved in the round of consolidation, along with industry leaders Maersk and Mediterranean Shipping Company, control nearly half of global container shipping capacity.

The total airfreight logistics confidence Index contracted by 2.3 points in December 2015, amounting to 46.6. The Index is 9.2 points lower than in December 2014, and 9.8 points lower than in December 2013. Regarding the present situation, the airfreight Index fell by 1.6 points to 43.8. Following a now well-established pattern, all lanes posted month-on-month declines with the exception of Europe-to-US, which gained 1.0 points to reach 57.4. By contrast, US-to-Europe stood at 42.6 after losing 3.5 points, whilst Asia-to-Europe and Europe-to-Asia lost 1.1 and 3.1 points respectively, totaling 41.3 and 34.8.

In the 6-month outlook, there were no exceptions to the pattern of decline that saw expectations fall 3.0 points to 49.3. Europe-to-Asia recorded the slightest change out of the four lanes, having fallen by 0.1 points to 47.4. Following this was US-to-Europe, which was down 1.5 points to 49.2. Whilst Europe-to-US stood out once more as a positive at 54.2 points, it also recorded a significant month on month decline of 4.6 points. Worse was Asia-to-Europe, which, at 46.9, had dropped below the 50 point mark by losing 5.5 points in December.

The logistics confidence Index for sea freight declined by 1.8 points to 44.3. Compared with the same month in 2014, the Index is 14.7 points lower, and it is also 14.3 points lower than in December 2013.

For the present situation, the Index fell 3.3 points to 40.7. All lanes noted declines in December, though Europe-to-US lost only 0.8 points, and therefore remained in a stronger position than the others at 55.0. Having declined by 4.7 points from November, Europe-to-Asia was the weakest of the lanes, and recorded a total of 32.9. Asia-to-Europe noted an even greater decline of 5.0 points, and stood at 36.1. US-to-Europe recorded a moderate loss of 2.6 points, which brought it to 40.4 overall.

The expected situation Index for sea freight was more positive than the present situation, with mixed results aggregating to a 0.2 point decline. Europe-to-US saw the most positive result, gaining 0.8 points to 56.9, whilst Asia-to-Europe similarly gained 0.7 points to score 47.8. Europe-to-Asia saw a 0.3 point decline to 44.7, but US-to-Europe was down 2.1 points to 42.7.

Source: Transport Intelligence