FRANKFURT, March 26 (Reuters) - Germany's biggest container shipping group Hapag-Lloyd raised the prospect of improving markets this year and next as the supply of shipping capacity eases.
The company, in which TUI AG holds a 22 percent stake, said on Wednesday it expected growing container shipping traffic and pointed to market studies projecting growth of 4.4 percent this year and of 5.2 percent next year.
"These are significantly better prospects for liner shipping, particularly in that the inflow of new shipping capacity is narrowing and increasing numbers of older ships are being taken out of the market entirely and scrapped," Chief Executive Michael Behrendt said in a statement.
Hapag-Lloyd, in which Chilean shipper Compania SudAmericana de Vapores has agreed to take a 30 percent stake, saw its net loss narrow by around one fourth to 97.4 million euros ($134 million) last year, helped by cost cutting and lower fuel costs.
Revenue fell by 4 percent to 6.57 billion euros, hurt by the euro's strength against the U.S. dollar.
$1 = 0.7258 Euros Reporting by Jan Schwartz, writing by Jonathan Gould; Editing by Ludwig Burger