Shanghai port data sparks rise in shipping stocks

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 04 August, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 04 August, 2009, 12:00am

Shares of shipping and port companies rallied after Shanghai port demand rebounded last month, pointing to a recovery in exports to the United States and Europe.

Shanghai Port, the largest on the mainland, saw container terminal throughput rise 7 per cent month on month to 2.14 million 20-foot equivalent units (teu).

That implies the year-on-year decline narrowed to 9 per cent last month from 16 per cent in the first half of the year, according to a Deutsche Bank report yesterday.

'We expect other ports to also report positive throughput data over the next few days,' said the report.

The improvement in port figures came after leading economic indicators on the mainland showed an upswing in demand for export goods. The July purchasing managers' index rose to 53.3, up 0.1 percentage point from the previous month. The sub-index for new export orders climbed 0.7 point from June to 52.1 points.

Falling inventory in the US has helped accelerate export demand from mainland factories. Speciality apparel retailers in the US reduced inventories by 13 per cent in the first quarter, one percentage point down from the previous quarter, showing the destocking is bottoming out. Department stores reduced stocks by 9 per cent from 10 per cent previously.

The pick-up in orders from the US and Europe has also been accompanied by an increase in freight rates, especially for recession-hit routes between Asia and Europe.

On July 1, China Shipping Container Lines raised rates by US$175 per teu for its Europe-Mediterranean route. It also planned to raise charges by US$50 per teu on July 15. Cosco Container Line has begun to charge peak-season surcharges on its Asia ex-Japan to Mediterranean and northwest Europe routes.

Cosco Pacific, the world's sixth-largest port operator, rose 17.93 per cent to HK$12.76 yesterday. China Merchants Holdings (International) closed 4.1 per cent higher at HK$26.65. China Cosco Holdings rose 10.18 per cent to HK$12.34.