Maersk expects $1bn loss after freight rates dip

DANISH shipping and oil group AP Moller-Maersk yesterday reported a deeper-than-forecast net loss for the first nine months of the year, hit by a global slump in freight, and said it would lose $1bn (&pound;603m) in 2009.<br /><br />The full-year 2009 outlook, unchanged from three months ago, points Maersk -- the world&rsquo;s biggest container shipping line -- towards its first year loss on record as container freight rates and volumes have plunged in the global downturn.<br /><br />&ldquo;The main problem is still rates,&rdquo; chief executive Nils Smedegaard Andersen said, noting that third-quarter container rates were down 32 per cent from a year earlier while volumes were only three per cent lower in the quarter.&shy;<br /><br />The trillion-dollar shipping industry carries around 90 per cent of the world&rsquo;s traded goods by volume, and many analysts look to seaborne activity for signs of economic recovery. <br /><br />&ldquo;Rates are coming up, rates are edging back up,&rdquo; Andersen said, &ldquo;but they are still below the entry level of 2009 and are not rising faster than bunker (fuel) so if we take the bunker factor out, rates are still below the first half of 2009.&rdquo;<br /><br />The recession has prompted shipping lines to cut rates and capacity.