Maersk has warned of “dark clouds on the horizon” as it cut its forecasts for business activity until the end of year.
The shipping giant has blamed slowing demand for transport and logistics, reflecting growing expectations of a global recession.
The Copenhagen-based company is one of the world’s biggest container shippers with a market share of around 17 per cent.
Maersk is widely perceived as a barometer of global trade, with its latest gloomy report acting as a potential harbinger of a global slowdown.
It managed to beat its third-quarter earnings expectations with gross profits of $10.9bn in the third quarter, a 25 per cent boost on the same window of trading last year.
It also reported a 37 per cent spike in revenue to $22.8bn.
Nevertheless, its has downplayed expectations for the fourth quarter, causing Maersk’s shares to tumble 5.8 per cent on the London Stock Exchange by the close of play.
Chief executive Soeren Skou said: “It is clear that freight rates have peaked and started to normalise during the quarter, driven by both decreasing demand and easing of supply chain congestion.”
He attributed this to an energy crisis in Europe, high inflation and challenging economic headwinds.
Maersk now sees global container demand falling by 2-4 per cent this year, citing an unfolding economic slowdown expected to continue into 2023.
Its previous guidance was for an outcome towards the lower end of a range of minus one per cent to plus one per cent.
Earlier this year, the company stopped buying Russian oil for its cargo fleet following the country’s invasion of Ukraine in February.
It has agreed to sell its holdings in four Russian ports, and to halt cargo bookings to Russia – suspending ocean, air and rail operations.