Trade Index Shows Declines in Europe-Based Lanes
The Stifel Logistics Confidence Index (LCI) continued its slide in November, falling for a sixth consecutive month—this time by 3.4 percent to reach 47.4. The second sub-50 reading in a row indicates a contracting global trade environment.
The LCI measures air and ocean trade activity in European lanes.
The LCI’s November reading was the lowest reading since November 2012 and just 0.1 points above the all-time low in October 2012 when the market was in the depths of the European Sovereign Debt
Declines were seen across all modes, although, the report noted, Europe-based air cargo market declines were milder than their sea freight counterparts.
The near-term outlook declined for both air and ocean, with the six-month ocean volume outlook predicting traffic declines for the first time in three-and-a-half years.
The overall LCI lost 1.6 points in November as compared to the previous month. “This is the second-worst performance in the history of the index,” which started in March 2012, said the Stifel report.
Air cargo volumes fell modestly, indicating a contraction for a second straight month. Tonnage growth was negative in three out of the four largest Europe-based trade lanes.
“Only Europe-U.S. volumes are growing,” said the report, “due, in our opinion, largely to relative U.S. dollar strength.”
Stifel’s six-month outlook for air cargo anticipates slow or no growth in three out of the four measured lanes. On the Europe-Asia route, “results suggest that volumes will remain challenged for at least the next couple of quarters.”
The ocean freight index saw volumes decline at a more accelerated pace than air cargo, as the reading fell to the lowest level in the history of the survey. The index dropped 2.0 points below the next weakest period of October 2012. As with air cargo, the Europe-U.S. lane improved, and only the U.S.-Europe lane is expanding.
“Every other lane is contracting as global trade struggles through a malaise,” said the report.
The declines in trade volumes were mirrored in earnings report of global forwarders which reported slow growth or declines on most major trades, except for inbound to the U.S.
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