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COPENHAGEN-Answers from respondents to the latest Danske Bank survey of freight forwarders suggest the worst may be over for the European freight industry. The bank’s European Freight Forwarding Index for May registered at 59, the first time the figure went above 50 in 2009.

According to the report’s author, Danske Bank transport equity analyst Johannes Møller, the current index provides a clear indication that the recovery in the freight markets has begun. The index runs from 0 to 100, with values above 50 indicating business levels are improving. Previous readings were 46 in April, 27 in March and 28 in February.

The survey questioned 123 forwarders in Scandinavia, the UK, Germany and Eastern Europe, with respondents asked to compare current freight volumes to volumes two months earlier and to predict volumes two months in the future. The reading for two months forward was an even higher 60.

Despite the improved situation, the report notes that volumes remain significantly below those of a year ago. Nonetheless, says Møller, the increase in volume indicates inventory depletion has ended, with goods beginning to move in line with end user demand. “The index for expected situation remains stable around 60.,” he states in the report. “This is in line with our market view that volumes will pick up gradually during Q2 and into Q3.We still expect volumes to be lower than last year in Q2, but the decline will much lower than what we saw in Q1.”

In a related report, the most recent reported monthly index from the China Federation of Logistics Purchasing (CFLP) increased from 52.4 in March to 53.5 in April. The April reading represents the fifth straight monthly rise since the index hit a record low of 38.8 in November. The index is derived from a survey or purchasing executives across China. A figure above 50 indicates an expansion in manufacturing activity.

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