Slipping 1.0 point to 56.3, the Stifel Logistics Confidence Index has noted a bit of hesitancy in the European freight forwarding market for the month of April. Both air and sea sub-indices recorded declines for the month as a strengthening US dollar and sluggish Asia contributed to the slip.
Stifel Confidence Index: Total
Despite being higher than April 2014 and 2013, both the present and 6 month outlook components fell for the current month and, as a result, the overall air freight sub-index fell 0.9 points to 57.0. The present situation fell 1.0 points to 53.3 with Asia to Europe the only lane to record a positive gain from March. In fact, this lane jumped 4.1 points and resulted in the lane moving above the 50-level to 51.2 from its previous contraction point of 47.1. However, the US to Europe lane had the opposite problem as it fell 4.6 points and ended below the 50-level at 47.4. For the other lanes, Asia to Europe fell 2.8 points to 54.6 and Europe to the US slipped 0.6 points.
The six month outlook was not much better. Overall, it slipped 0.9 points to 60.6 with the Asia to Europe lane noting the only gain, up 3.6 points to 63.6. Europe to the US had the biggest decline at 4.7 points to 60.8, while Europe to Asia fell 2.2 points to 62.2 and US to Europe slipped 0.7 points to 55.1.
Stifel Confidence Index: Air Freight
The sea freight sub-index fared even worse as it fell 1.1 points to 55.6. The present situation declined with 2.9 points with all lanes declining. Two lanes fell into contraction, Europe to Asia declined 2.8 points to 47.4 and US to Europe declined 3.9 points to 46.5. The other lanes declined but remained above the 50-level.
The six month outlook was the only component to record a gain, up 0.6 points to 60.8. Only two lanes noted gains, Asia to Europe and US to Europe, up 1.7 and 1.1 points to 621 and 54.0 respectively. No change for Europe to Asia as it remained at 63. Europe to US slipped 0.3 points to 63.0.
Stifel Confidence Index: Sea Freight
This month’s survey question was, “Have larger vessels created problems with port congestion and landside planning and delays?” Of the respondents 54.3% noted there have been problems while 30.9% indicated no problems and 14.9% were unsure.
In the US, recent Journal of Commerce articles suggest that larger vessels are becoming an issue at such ports as New York/NJ, Norfolk and Los Angeles and Long Beach. In the UK, it’s possible that some of the backup recently seen at Liverpool could also be attributed to larger vessels. Regardless, the situation is likely to continue and spread to additional ports that are yet to be fully prepared for the behemoth ships.
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