Cargo Volumes Fall The Most In Five Months Amid Coronavirus Outbreak
Cargo ships sit beside loading cranes in the export terminal at Nikolaev port in Nikolaev, Ukraine. (Photographer: Vincent Mundy/Bloomberg)

Cargo Volumes Fall The Most In Five Months Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Cargo handled by Indian ports fell the most in five months, dragged down by a drop in liquid cargo and container volumes, as the coronavirus outbreak stalled economic activities.

Ports across the country handled 618.7 lakh tonnes of cargo in March, a decline of 5 percent over the year-ago period, according to data compiled by BloombergQuint.

Liquid cargo—oil and gas related products—fell 5.1 percent year-on-year, the most in eight months, to 227.2 lakh tonnes, the data showed. Container volumes tumbled 10.5 percent —the biggest in at least 27 months—at 120.2 lakh tonnes in March. Liquid cargo and container together constitute more than half of the total cargo volumes. Liquid cargo alone accounts for 37 percent of total volumes.

Goldman Sachs, in a previous report, had said the negative impact of the coronavirus outbreak on shipments was expected in March. This could impact volumes of Adani Port and Special Economic Zones Ltd., Container Corporation of India Ltd. and Gujarat Pipapav Port Ltd. The brokerage has a ‘buy’ rating on Adani Ports, while a neutral stance on the other two.

According to Morgan Stanley, Adani Ports, however, has largely been able to meet its volume guidance for the financial year ended March 2020. The company reported 223-million-tonne volumes during the year against its target of 223-226 million tonnes.

How other segments fared in March:

  • Iron ore volumes rose 7.5 percent—the slowest pace in 11 months. The volumes, however, grew for 11 straight months.
  • Coal volumes grew for the third straight month at 4.3 percent.
  • Fertiliser volumes snapped the nine-month growth streak to drop 60 percent. That’s the most in at least 27 months.
  • Miscellaneous cargo volumes declined for the third month in a row. Other cargo volumes in March declined 17 percent over last year—the most in five months.
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