Cautious optimism for shipping as confidence hits three-year high: Moore Stephens

Cautious optimism for shipping as confidence hits three-year high: Moore Stephens

Cautious optimism for shipping as confidence hits three-year high: Moore Stephens

Richard Greiner, Moore Stephens partner, shipping & transportRichard Greiner, Moore Stephens partner, shipping & transport

Cautious optimism is in the air over the shipping industry’s fortunes over the next 12 months, lifting confidence in the sector to a three-year high for the three months ended 31 May 2017, according to the latest Shipping Confidence Survey from Moore Stephens.

The survey saw a number of respondents expressed cautious optimism about the industry’s fortunes over the next 12 months, based largely on perceived increased levels of ship demolition and a rationalisation of over-ambitious newbuilding plans.

There continues to be, however, concerns over political uncertainty, overtonnaging in certain trades, depressed oil prices and a potential dearth of quality seafarers.

The Shipping Confidence Survey showed average shipping confidence reached its equal highest rating in the past three years in the three months to end-May 2017, up to 6.1 out of 10 from the 5.6 recorded in the previous survey in February 2017.

Moore Stephens said increased confidence was recorded by all main categories of respondent to the survey, which launched in May 2008 with an overall confidence rating of 6.8.

One respondent said: “Shipping people are eternally optimistic, with one week of good news seeming to help them forget eight terrible years of hardship and financial loss.”

The number of respondents expecting higher freight rates over the next 12 months was up on the previous survey in all three main tonnage categories.

In the tanker market, 32% of respondents anticipated improved rates, as opposed to 25% last time, while the number anticipating lower tanker rates fell from 28% to 16%.

In the container ship sector, the numbers expecting higher rates rose from 31% to 46%, while there was a six percentage-point fall, to 12%, in those anticipating lower container ship rates.

In a standalone question, respondents were asked to estimate the level they expected the Baltic Dry Index (BDI) to be at in 12 months’ time. More than half (52%) felt the BDI would reach a level of between 1,000 and 1,499, while a quarter (25%) put the likely figure at between 1,500 and 1,999. “Healthy volumes of cargo are being moved,” said one respondent, “but there are too many ships around.”

Richard Greiner, Moore Stephens partner, shipping & transport, said: “In our latest survey, the figure stands at 6.1 which, given geopolitical, economic and industry developments, must be seen as a robust rating. Moreover, confidence today of making a major new investment is the highest it has been for almost three years. The positive sentiment on freight rates is welcome, although this must be weighed against the lows to which they have fallen and from which they must continue to recover.

“Even for an industry which is familiar with the volatile nature of international commerce, shipping’s ability to survive adversity is worthy of comment. Our latest survey found many of our respondents in watchful mode, mindful of the fact that there are still too many ships, but encouraged to believe that increased demolition and more pragmatism by industry stakeholders will help to redress this imbalance.”

Lee Hong Liang

Lee Hong Liang
Asia Correspondent, Seatrade Maritime.