New data from Tradeshift, released on January 17, shows the transport and logistics sector continued contracting in Q4 as it has for the seventh straight quarter.
Tradeshift’s latest Index of Global Trade Health, which analyses the flow of purchase orders and invoice traffic across global supply chains, revealed that transaction volumes across the transport and logistics sector grew at 6 points below its expected range in Q4.
Activity levels across the manufacturing sector also contracted in Q4 rising at 6 points below the baseline.
Total trade activity across all sectors showed modest signs of improvement in Q4, albeit from a relatively low base. Global trade transaction volumes improved to 4 points below the baseline in Q4, having sunk to 6 points below anticipated levels in the previous quarter.
Much of the improvement in overall trade activity stems from a surprising jump in new orders during Q4. Order volumes grew 5 points above the expected range in the final quarter of 2023, having tracked below expected levels for the preceding nine quarters.
“Ordering patterns give us useful clues as to how businesses are viewing demand signals for the next six months,” said James Stirk, CEO, Tradeshift, in a statement. “If order volumes continue to rise in Q1, then we should start to see activity levels begin to climb in areas such as transport and logistics.”
In the US, total transaction volumes stabilized at 3 points below the baseline in Q4 having softened in the previous quarter. Orders in the US rose at 6 points above the expected range in Q4, marking the most substantial acceleration in two years.
Transaction volumes across the Eurozone, which had fallen to 9 points below the anticipated level in the previous quarter, rose to 4 points below the expected level in Q3. Order volumes across the region tracked 3 points above the baseline in Q4.
UK trade activity remained low compared to other markets with total transactions 5 points below the expected level. Order volumes grew at 1 point above the expected range in Q4.
In China, overall trade activity remained in contraction territory, showing only modest signs of improvement from a mid-year slump. Transaction volumes across local supply chains grew at 5 points below the baseline in Q4, compared to a 6-point deficit in the previous quarter.
”Our latest data suggests sentiment among businesses is improving, but it’s also important to remember that any growth we’ve seen in Q4 is coming from a low base. said Stirk. “The protracted slowdown in orders we’ve seen in recent quarters has left a lot of ground to recover before demand starts to show any concrete signs of normalizing, While I’m cautiously optimistic, the outlook for 2024 remains heavily in the balance.”