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Most trading areas are very quiet: Maersk CEO

Danish shipping and oil giant, Moller-Maersk announced on Friday it was downgrading its full-year outlook for underlying profit to around $3.4 billion, a drop of some $600 million from its previous forecast.

Since the global financial crisis, the shipping industry has been burdened with overcapacity – following a surge in ship orders – causing a decline in freight rates.

While the $600m is "a big sum" in relation to turnover, Maersk's chief executive, Nils S. Andersen, remained confident they could weather the storm, on the hope freight rates picked up.

"It's a big sum but in relation to turnover it's actually not huge. The thing is we see very weak development in the trade between Asia and Europe, and because there's a lot of capacity coming into that trade, we've seen pressure on rates."

"What affects us more is the rates than the volume, but that trade looks particularly weak," Andersen told CNBC Friday.

Andersen acknowledged that many trading areas had been "very quiet" as of late, meaning that they had expectations which were more to the downside.

"We don't see great positive news on the trading front, with most trading areas are very quiet. Our expectations for "up or downgrades" from the international institutions on growth expectations for the year is probably more to the downside than the upside."

With Europe being one of the most fundamental markets for the company, a weak trade between Asia and the region demonstrates even the shipping industry can't escape the China slowdown effect.

"What we think is happening is the renminbi has appreciated a lot versus the euro. First we've seen a reduction in stocks and then disappointing peak season trade from Asia to Europe. Currency and competitiveness is surely playing a role. We need to understand the underlying conditions better."

Container ships are seen at Lianyungang port on July 10, 2015 in Lianyungang, Jiangsu Province of China. During the first six months of 2015, total value of foreign trade stood at about 1857.48 billion USD (11.53 trillion RMB), down by 6.9 percent from a year earlier.
ChinaFotoPress | Getty Images
Container ships are seen at Lianyungang port on July 10, 2015 in Lianyungang, Jiangsu Province of China. During the first six months of 2015, total value of foreign trade stood at about 1857.48 billion USD (11.53 trillion RMB), down by 6.9 percent from a year earlier.

Andersen also cited that low oil prices combined with "very, very low rates" have put pressure on the company. However, the CEO confirmed that they had taken initiatives recently, including cutting capacity – to make it in line with what the company needs – to handle current market conditions.

"What we now hope for is that the rates can go up. It's not unusual that you have these ups and downs in shipping and we'll still make $1.6 billion in mass line this year. The company's doing well, but we'd like the rates to pick up."

Shares in Moller-Maersk were trading down 4.6 percent at 3.15 p.m. London time.

By CNBC's Alexandra Gibbs, follow her on Twitter @AlexGibbsy.