WITH factory stocks continuing to expand and the outlook for container shipping looking less than rosy, prices for new and second hand shipping containers as well as lease rates declined in the third quarter.
In response, Drewry has lowered its forecast for global container port volumes in 2019 from three per cent to 2.6 per cent. Add to this the growing number of boxes stockpiled in depots across China, estimated to stand at one million TEU, and it's no wonder that the container manufacturing and leasing sectors reported disappointing results in 3Q19, reported Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide.
Dry box prices dropped by 5.5 per cent during the quarter while reefer values remained stable. Drewry's Dry Shipping Container Newbuild Price Index, which tracks values of new 40-foot high cube containers, decreased by four points in the quarter to a value of 82, representing an annual decline of 20 per cent.
On the other hand, the reefer price index, based on the prevailing value of new 40ft high cube refrigerated containers, was unchanged at 89, having fallen three per cent over the year. Container resale prices remained broadly stable.
The falling market affected leasing rates which were lower for all container types, both compared with the previous quarter and year on year. The fall in daily rates was most acutely felt in the dry box sector with average less than truckloads (LTLs) down 26 per cent year on year.
It meant that lease rates lost some ground against newbuild prices and this could lead to lessors ordering fewer boxes in the future. This situation may have already begun as lessors reduced their purchases by up to 60 per cent compared to the second quarter, while transport operators were more active, accounting for 59 per cent of newbuild purchases during the quarter.
In one year leasing sector acquisitions have decreased by 22 per cent.
For the second quarter in succession transport operators purchased more reefers than lessors with Ocean Network Express and Hapag-Lloyd among those carriers taking delivery of a substantial amount of new equipment. Both ocean liners are expanding their reefer services and require the additional containers to meet expected demand in the fourth quarter and early 2020.
The drop in box prices heaped further pressure on container manufacturers, which despite cutting costs, are barely breaking even in the current trading environment. Singamas withdrew this year from the dry container manufacturing business and further rationalisation of capacity cannot be ruled out.
A glut of newbuild dry box containers and declining values prompted manufacturers to reduce output which fell 50 per cent in the quarter, although reefer production remained stable. Drewry predicts total shipping container production will have decreased by 36 per cent by year end compared to 2018.