Shipping confidence, notably on the part of charterers and managers, improved for the second successive quarter in the three months to end-August 2016, according to the latest Shipping Confidence Survey from accountant and shipping adviser Moore Stephens.
In August 2016, the average confidence level expressed by respondents was 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.
Although confidence on the part of owners was down this time 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. 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 a respondent.
Conditions in the dry bulk market also occupied the thoughts of large numbers of respondents, as the implementation of the Ballast Water Management Convention “will most likely solve overcapacity,” according to another respondent, “but it will also cause a bloodbath among owners.”
Concerns about the global economy were uppermost in the minds of a number of respondents, one of whom neatly encapsulated a number of the main issues currently impacting the shipping industry by noting, “Brexit, Trump, supply overhang, consolidation, demolition, bankruptcies, and the low risk appetite of banks for shipping and shipping stocks seem to be the main topics to follow for the next 12 months or so. We would be pleasantly surprised if this were to change.”
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.
Demand trends, competition and tonnage supply featured again as the top three factors cited by respondents as those likely to influence performance most significantly over the coming 12 months.
“Given the challenges currently facing the industry, the continuing uncertainty surrounding the worldwide economy, and the ongoing level of global geopolitical instability, it is encouraging to see an increase in shipping confidence for the second successive quarter. Confidence is now at its highest level for nine months, which says much for the resilience of the shipping industry,” Richard Greiner, Moore Stephens Partner, Shipping & Transport, said.