The container equipment index price at the end of 2015 was $1,450 per CEU equivalent (or 20-ft. standard), down from $1,900 a year earlier. The average price for the year was $1,750, down 15 percent on 2014 and by the end of 2015 the index had fallen close to the all-time low of 2001-02.
“Some of the recent price fall has resulted from the weakening state of the global economy and the decline in trade demand,” said Drewry’s lead analyst for container equipment Andrew Foxcroft. “Drewry is forecasting a further possible fall in the overall price for 2016, as it dipped briefly to $1,300 by the second quarter.” By end-2015, the new-for-old replacement cost of the global box fleet was down to $77bn, which compared with $90bn or greater for each of the preceding five year-ends (2010-14).
The global container equipment fleet amounted to 37.6 million TEU at the end of 2015, having increased in size by 3.8 percent, or 1.36 million TEU during 2015. This increase was lower than at any time previously, apart from 2009 when the box fleet actually shrank, and was prompted by the weakening state of the global economy and a further decline in trade demand. The fleet is expected to expand at a similarly low rate, with a maximum of 4 percent to 5 percent a year being forecast for 2016-19.
The weaker growth in 2015, which has affected the global container fleet as a whole, was also accompanied by a significantly poorer showing by the box lease industry. This – as opposed to the shipping line sector – was to suffer more from the downturn in demand, as indicated by its proportionally lower rate of fleet expansion.
The biggest numerical growth, 6.4 percent, again occurred within the maritime 40-ft. high cube fleet of principally dry freight and reefer containers, as against 3 percent for the 20-ft. counterpart. This increase amounted to a net addition of 1.15 million TEU as 40-ft. high cube, as against 333,000 TEU 20-ft. “The 40-ft high cube fleet is forecast to continue expanding at a faster rate than the maritime fleet as a whole. This gain will come at the further expense of 40-ft equipment, leaving the 20-ft. share intact and unchanging," concludes Foxcroft.
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