The Stifel Nicolaus Logistics Confidence Index, a measure of European freight forwarder confidence, fell for the fifth straight month in September.
“Survey respondents indicated that the current forwarding and logistics environment continues to track below normal expectations for this time of year, registering 40.6 vs. 41.5 last month, and compared with a benchmark neutral reading of 50.0,” Stifel Nicolaus said in a statement. “While the six-month outlook for both air and ocean freight volumes also fell, the sequential decline was only one-tenth of an index point.”
The investment bank Stifel Nicolaus partners with U.S.-based research firm Transport Intelligence to develop and maintain the monthly index.
“On an absolute basis, current sea freight levels continue to fare better than their air freight counterparts, although perceptions for both remain below expectations,” Stifel Nicolaus said.
Current sentiment in air cargo dropped 2.3 percent, while forward confidence – with respondents still expecting growth – declined 0.2 percent from 54.1 to 54. In ocean, indexed readings for the current climate also fell 2.3 percent, while forward expectations contracted 0.4 percent from 55.5 to 55.3.
“On a more granular basis, the lane-by-lane picture was not as consistently negative for either mode as it was last month,” Stifel Nicolaus said. “This month, some trade lanes were actually indicative of growth, including current volumes in the Asia-Europe Air lane, expected volumes in U.S-Europe air freight, and present volumes in Europe-U.S. on the ocean side.
“However, the overarching theme is still of trepidation. The remaining lanes continued to tick downward toward their lowest levels yet, though sequential declines were in almost all cases less in September than they were in August," the bank added.
The bank said its September results were not surprising, “given that some European economies have slipped back into recession, but there are some signs of stabilization after this summer's slump. Still, the picture for shippers and forwarders is one marked by uncertainty.” - Eric Johnson