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Container shipping volume slips in Q3, average freight rates decline: Maersk

The third quarter of 2019 saw growth in the global container volumes slip to 1.5% while freight rates declined an average of 3.6% according to AP Moller – Maersk in its Q3 earnings statement.

The Danish shipping company said that in the third quarter global container volume growth softened to around 1.5%. “The slowdown is in line with our revised expected full year growth of 1-2% in 2019 and reflects the broad- based weakening of the economic environment in all the main economies. Negative effects from escalating trade restrictions also weighed on trade growth,” Maersk said.

In particular US container imports fell 0.5% in the quarter, with imports from Asia dropping by 0.9%, which it said reflected the US – China trade restrictions.

On supply side the growth in the container shipping fleet capacity outstripped demand with a 3.9% in increase in Q3 to 23.1m teu.

AP Moller – Maersk ceo Soren Skou commented: “While the global container demand, as expected, was lower in Q3 due to weaker growth in the global economy, AP Moller – Maersk continued to improve the operating results.”

In terms of freight rates the China Composite Freight Index (CCFI) showed that rates were 1.7% lower in Q3 2019 than the same period a year earlier. The drop was particularly steep on the Asia – North Europe trade where rates declined 9% in the quarter.

Despite the lower trade growth and declining freight rates Maersk reported an underlying profit of $452m for Q3 2019 compared to $234m in the same period a year earlier, with revenues of $10.05bn for the quarter.

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