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A worrying trend in packaging shipments has been amplified by three straight quarterly decline in sales at FedEx. At the same time, prominent container shipping firms are grappling with persistently suppressed volumes and rates. An entrenched downturn in revenues throughout the US’s shipping and logistics industry could suggest more downside is ahead for battered shares in the transportation sector and carry significant macro implications.

Trouble may also be ahead for FedEx competitor UPS, who is currently embroiled in a labor dispute with their Teamsters. A strike was authorized last week by the employees’ union, and the largest US work stoppage in decades could be on tap if contract disputes are not resolved soon.

Related ETFs & Stocks: iShares Transportation Average ETF (IYT), U.S. Global Sea to Sky Cargo ETF (SEA), FedEx Corporation (FDX), United Parcel Service, Inc. (UPS)

Recent data from Bank of America and Bloomberg show a 3-month average of cardboard box shipments is falling at its fastest rate since the financial crisis. That downturn may indicate firms in the shipping and logistics industries are facing tougher times ahead. So-called “package recessions” are also a foreboding prospect for the US economy at large, as cardboard boxes serve as the primary delivery mechanism of goods in American society. Slower or declining demand for cardboard boxes can therefore imply a downtrend in aggregate demand among consumers.

These concerns were further bolstered this morning by weaker than expected quarterly earnings out of FedEx, which posted a third-straight drop in quarterly revenue to $21.9 billion, a -10% decline, and missing Wall Street sales expectations of $22.5 billion. Barron’s notes that daily package volumes in the Express business fell -10% YoY and average daily freight pounds shipped dropped -14% YoY. In the year ahead, FedEx forecast…

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