Shipping confidence slightly up

SEPTEMBER 26, 2016 — International accountant and shipping advisory firm Moore Stephens says that shipping confidence, at least on the part of charterers and managers, actually improved for the second quarter in a row, according to its latest Shipping Confidence Survey, which covers the three months to end-August 2016.

Although confidence on the part of shipowners was down from 5.7 to 5.3, charterers (up from 4.0 to 4.8), managers (up from 5.1 to 6.0) and brokers (up from 4.3 to 4.5) were all more optimistic than in May 2016 taking the average confidence level expressed by respondents to 5.4 on a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high). This is an improvement on the 5.1 recorded in May 2016, and the highest rating for the past nine months of the survey, which was launched in May 2008 with a confidence rating of 6.8.

Geographically, confidence was up in Asia, from 5.2 to 5.5, and in North America from 5.0 to 5.8, with sentiment in Europe unchanged at 5.2.

Overcapacity was the dominant theme of comments from respondents to the survey.

"Scrapping is still not sufficient to cope with newbuilding deliveries and the general supply-side overhang. Every new order will prolong the crisis," said one, while another noted, "If we all stay away from ordering relatively cheap tonnage today, supply and demand will soon recover."

Conditions in the dry bulk market also occupied the thoughts of large numbers of respondents.

"Implementation of the Ballast Water Management Convention will most likely solve overcapacity," said one, "but it will also cause a bloodbath among owners."

The likelihood of respondents making a major investment or significant development over the next 12 months was unchanged on the previous survey, with a rating of 4.9 on a scale of 1 to 10. The confidence of charterers in this respect was up significantly, from 4.1 to 5.0, while brokers also recorded a small increase, from 3.5 to 4.1. Owners and managers, however, were less confident in this regard than they were three months ago, dropping from 5.7 to 4.8 and from 5.4 to 5.3 respectively.

One respondent said, "Massive investment, mainly from inexperienced funds and private entrepreneurs, has resulted in an oversupply of funding in some trades."

The number of respondents who expected finance costs to increase over the next 12 months was down by six percentage points, to 35%. There was a noticeable fall in the numbers of owners (down by six percentage points to 31%), managers (down by 19 percentage points to 30%) and charterers (down by two percentage points to 27%) anticipating higher finance costs. One respondent said, "Shipping banks need to be more realistic about pricing if they want to sell debt as a means of reducing their exposure to the sector."

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