Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Transportation: Record Idle Ships, Trucking Tonnage Increases Slightly

by Bill McBride on 3/03/2009 01:05:00 PM

From the Journal of Commerce: Idle Box Fleet Reaches 1.35M TEUs (hat tip Vincent)

Idled ocean container capacity on March 2 reached a record 1.35 million TEUs with 453 ships without work as carriers continue to axe services in the face of collapsing cargo volumes and tumbling freight rates across all trade routes.

The jobless figure, up from 392 vessels of 1.1 million TEUs two weeks ago, is equivalent to 10.7 percent of the world cellular container ship fleet in capacity terms, according to AXS-Alphaliner, the Paris-based consultant.

This is the highest unemployment rate in the history of container shipping and is three times the 3.5 percent jobless figure in the depth of the 2002 bear market.
From the American Trucking Association: ATA Truck Tonnage Index Rose 3 Percent in January

Truck Tonnage Click on graph for larger image in new window.

The American Trucking Associations’ advanced seasonally adjusted For-Hire Truck Tonnage Index climbed 3 percent in January 2009, marking only the second month-to-month increase in the last seven months. Still, the gain did little to erase the revised 7.8 percent contraction in December 2008. In January, the seasonally adjusted tonnage index equaled just 104.7 (2000 = 100), its second-lowest level since October 2002. ...

Compared with January 2008, the index declined 10.8 percent, which was slightly better than December’s 12.5 percent year-over-year drop.

ATA Chief Economist Bob Costello said that there was no reason to get excited about January’s 3 percent month-to-month improvement. “Tonnage will not fall every month, and just because it rises every now and then doesn’t mean the economy is on the mend,” Costello said. “Furthermore, tonnage is contracting significantly on a year-over-year basis, which is highlighting the current weakness in the freight environment.”