Shipping confidence maintained a positive outlook in the three months to end-February 2017, according to Moore Stephens’ latest Shipping Confidence Survey.
In February 2017, the average confidence level expressed by respondents was 5.6 out of 10.0, unchanged from the previous survey in November, 2016 and equal to the highest rating since August, 2015.
Owners showed an improved level of confidence, up from 5.4 to 5.6, potentially influenced by the uptick experienced in the industry recently.
However, confidence on the part of charterers was down from its all-time survey high of 6.8 to 5.9, while that of managers fell from 6.4 to 6.0.
Confidence was up in Europe and North America, from 5.4 to 5.5 and 5.9 to 6.1 respectively, but down from 5.7 to 5.6 in Asia.
According to Moore Stephens: “Respondents generally felt that competition was running at very high levels, while other familiar concerns [remained] included overtonnaging and geopolitical uncertainty.
“Most respondents saw 2017 as a year of retrenchment rather than improvement.”
One respondent to the survey said: “If owners can maintain their discipline and resist the blandishments of shipyards desperate for business, there is hope that 2018 will see a return of market equilibrium, in which continued scrapping remains a key element.”
Another respondent noted: “The current state of most shipping markets, coupled with the weakness of banks, means that conditions should be more attractive for alternative lenders.”
Issues still facing the industry include a backlog of oversupply of ships, as well as insufficient demolition, while freight markets are dragging along the bottom in many sectors, with net rate sentiment in the tanker market being particularly low.
However, Moore Stephens stated: “Shipping is not a natural fit for the pessimist, and those with meaningful experience of the industry will be looking with some justification for a re-strengthening of rates in the tanker and dry-bulk trades, supported by continued rationalisation of newbuilding plans and accelerated recycling levels.
“Meanwhile, oil prices will continue to go up, which is mixed news for the shipping industry. For those who can effectively manage risk and volatility, shipping is still the place to be.”