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Keep a close watch on freight rates this year. There is more of a chance carriers will seek to regain lost grounds on shipping rates.

A.P. Moeller-Maersk A/S, owner of the world’s largest container-shipping line, last week reported its first annual loss in at least six decades and said it will be limited to a “modest” profit in 2010 because of inadequate price increases.

The Copenhagen-based firm reported an annual loss of 7.0 billion kroner (USD$1.3 billion), citing a drop in global shipments of goods amid the economic crisis.

Freight rates for the group’s container activities were 28% lower than in 2008, tanker rates also were substantially lower.

The company made a net profit of 17 billion kroner a year earlier. Revenue for 2009 dropped to 260 billion kroner ($47.73 billion) from 312 billion kroner a year earlier.

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