Uncertainty in the global market continues as the latest Stifel Logistics Confidence Index indicates a dip of 0.4 points in the overall measurement to 55.7. While the present situation remained positive, gaining 1.2 points from July to 53.5, the expected situation for the next six months stumbled 2.0 points to 57.9. This decline was particularly noticeable within airfreight expectations which declined 3.3 points to 54.7. The sea freight expectation component declined 0.7 points to 61.0. Even though uncertainty in the global market is influencing the freight forwarding market, this month’s unique question may suggest another possible trend may be influencing this market.
The overall airfreight index declined 1.6 points to 52.8 for August. The index is now just 2.4 points higher than August 2013 which indicates the airfreight market recovery remains fragile at best. The present situation increased just slightly by 0.1 points from July with the Asia to Europe and Europe to US lanes noting declines of 0.9 points and 1.0 points respectively. This is in line with IATA’s recent data which indicates the global air freight market grew 2.3% over June 2013. That is slower than the 4.9% growth reported for May.
Perhaps more concerning is the expected situation which noted a large decline of 3.3 points to 54.7. All lanes recorded declines with Europe to US and Europe to Asia noting the largest at 4.8 points and 4.5 points respectively. Is this an indication of a cloudy economic forecast or possibly the timing of the 2015 Chinese New Year?
The overall Sea Freight index increased 0.7 points to 58.5. The increase was due to a strong rise in the present situation which gained 2.2 points for the month. Three lanes noted increases while the US to Europe lane remained the same as in July.
Similar to the Air Freight expected situation, Sea Freight declined, but not as steeply. Down 0.7 points to 61.0, the outlook still remains good despite mixed results from trade lanes. The Asia to Europe expected situation declined the most for the month, down 3.0 points to 63.6 while US to Europe noted the biggest gain at 1.5 points to 59.2.
This month’s question was actually two. We asked survey respondents if they have converted any airfreight to sea freight and/or ocean freight to airfreight in the past 12 months. The results were interesting, 48% noted they had indeed converted some airfreight to ocean freight whereas 38.7% indicated some conversion from sea freight to airfreight.
Some interesting responses support trends highlighted by Ti’s latest Global Freight Forwarding report, that of changes within modes of transportation. Several respondents indicated a shift from air to rail and also ocean to rail. Other responses noted a multi-modal approach such as air-sea solution.