European shippers expect trade volumes on their trade lanes to continue to decline, according to the latest Stifel Nicolaus Logistics Confidence Index.
In October, the Index, which measures freight forwarding confidence for all European trade lanes, saw its sixth consecutive sequential decline. The most recent reading came in at 47.3, a scant 0.6 percent below September's figure, but still indicative of decline, and still underperforming normal expectations for this time of year.
Survey respondents indicated that current international trade volumes remain poor relative to normal seasonal expectations, as the October index fell to 40.4 from September’s reading of 40.6, and compared with the benchmark of 50.0.
The deceleration was less than in previous months, but, perhaps more importantly, the six-month outlook for air and ocean freight volumes continued to worsen.
Ocean freight volumes fell in most trade lanes, with the only improvement seen on the westbound Europe-to-Asia route. However, the index for the six-month outlook remains above 50.0, suggesting that forwarders still have some confidence--though slightly less so than in previous months-- that things will get better.
On a positive note, current sentiment in airfreight saw sequential improvement for the first time since March 2012. The improvement was reflected in each of the four European trade lanes monitored by the survey. However, Stifel Nicolaus said it is not clear yet if this uptick will be the first of several or just a bounce off the bottom. In either case, the total current airfreight sentiment remains well below benchmark.
The monthly survey of international shippers and forwarders, which Stifel Nicolaus conducts with Transport Intelligence, a U.K.-based research firm specializing in global logistics, is an indicator of shipper expectations and a barometer of the health and trajectory of international freight movements.