World's Largest Container Line Sees Boxship Market Recovery From Q3

by Ship & Bunker News Team
Thursday March 2, 2023

Container line MSC, the world's largest by capacity, is expecting to see the boxship market's current downturn coming to an end from the third quarter of this year.

The current resilience in the US economy and a recovery in the China-Europe trade since the Lunar New Year holidays are likely to see a rally for container markets later this year, MSC CEO Soren Toft said in an interview with CNBC this week.

"I think when we come to the middle of this year, we'll probably start seeing trade move," Toft was cited as saying.

"I would suspect when we get through the second quarter and into the middle of the year, we'll start to see some positive signs.

"We still see the US in very positive shape.

"It's a net energy exporter. ... I believe they've been able to slowly reduce inflation, and the job market is very strong. There's basically full employment.

"So we still see the US as very strong and very positive.

"We're seeing good healthy volumes now out of China to North Europe. So we believe and hope that's a trend for the coming months."

Container markets have slumped over the past year after abnormal strength since the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted global trade in 2020. This has been a significant concern for the bunker industry, with boxships representing a bigger share of marine fuel demand than any other shipping segment.

If Toft's analysis proves to be wrong, MSC will feel the pain more than most of the top container lines, as it has been at the forefront of a ship ordering spree over the past few years driven by the market's previous strength.

Of the 89 large boxships between 7,000 and 24,000 TEU in capacity being delivered to the top lines this year, MSC is set to receive 33 ships, according to analysis from Alphaliner.