The Stifel Nicolaus Logistics Confidence Index, a monthly survey of international shippers and forwarders measuring Europe-based air and ocean freight trade lanes, conducted by Stifel Nicolaus Transportation & Logistics Research Group, rose for a fourth month in September, up 11.3 percent year-over-year to a reading of 53.0.
September’s reading also marks the eighth consecutive month above the 50.0 threshold, signifying growth, according to the research group. Furthermore, the report showed the index in September inched up 1.0 percent over last month’s reading of 52.4, reaching its highest level since the index’s inception in March 2012, indicating the existence of a gradual recovery from a “protracted inverted plateau” in the overall European freight forwarding market.
“We believe that air freight volumes in particular continue to show improvement, and that Europe-based freight should continue to strengthen into [the second half of 2013] as downside volume risks taper away,” the firm said.
Despite the improvement, the overall sea freight index dropped 0.4 points, reversing August’s sequential improvement, according to the survey. The sea freight decline may result from rate implementations and announcements for additional rate adjustments, the report said. Meanwhile, the air freight index was above the 50.0 benchmark for a third consecutive month, although the results continued to register below normal seasonal levels.
However, the study found that 42.4 percent of survey participants expect a peak season to materialize in 2013, which compares favorably to last year.
“Results over the past several months suggest that European import/export volumes should continue to improve as the year wears on, and this month's index readings seem to corroborate that story,” Stifel Nicolaus Transportation & Logistics Research Group concluded. “Still, current absolute volumes remain below benchmark, and both air freight and sea freight activity must continue to get better before the market returns to normalized levels.”