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  January 16th, 2017 | Written by

2016 Ended With Logistics Uptick

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  • More data needed to see if the December logistics confidence results represent a genuine inflection point.
  • Europe-Asia trade lanes drove positive December air cargo results.
  • Most ocean carriers holding off on capacity reductions.

The Logistics Confidence Index ended a run of 14 consecutive months of negative results, with a positive indication at the end of 2016.

With the positive uptick, there are some good signs for global trade, according to a report from Transport Intelligence, with the index reflecting a healthier environment in air freight.

“Nonetheless, the salience of one month’s results can only truly be seen in hindsight,” the report noted. “More data is needed to determine if the December results represent a genuine inflection point.”

The December Air Freight Index score reached 50.6, representing a month-on-month increase of 1.3 points. That score was 4.0 points greater than in December 2015, but 5.2 points less than in December 2014.

The Air Freight Logistics Situation Index improved by 2.0 points month-on-month, to total 49.4. The performance of the Europe to Asia and Asia to Europe trade lanes were decisive in producing that outcome. Europe to US and US to Europe was both down. The Air Freight Logistics Expectations Index score was also driven by improvements on the trade lanes between Europe and Asia, and vice versa.

In the ocean freight industry, indications are that carriers are responding aggressively to overcapacity problems, though some are holding off on actual capacity reductions.

Drewry has stated that the global fleet of idle ships has doubled over the last year, totaling of 1.7 million TEU.

Competition within the sector is unlikely to let up and ship lines continue to consolidate. Most recently Maersk Line announced its effort to acquire Hamburg Süd. “But pricing pressure may yet force further industry consolidation,” the report said.

For December, the Sea Freight Logistics Confidence Index recorded a gain of 2.5 points against the previous month, and a gain of 5.6 points against December of the previous year. The result was still 9.1 points below the score of 59.0 registered in December 2014.

The Sea Freight Logistics Situation Index score increased by 3.6 points month-on month. All lanes contributed to this growth. The Sea Freight Logistics Expectations Index score rose by 1.4 points from November, to total 51.4. Three of the four lanes recorded improvements over this timeframe.

Transshipment hubs are showing weakness in the current environment. The Port of Busan recorded 6.5-percent decline in volumes compared to 2015 thanks to its exposure to the Hanjin Shipping collapse. In the United States, the Port of Long Beach suffered a similar fate, also because of its reliance on Hanjin cargo.