Moody’s Changes Outlook on Global Shipping Sector to Negative

Moody’s Investors Service (Moody’s) has switched its outlook on the global shipping sector to negative as it expects supply growth to outpace demand growth in 2016 by more than 2%, suppressing freight rates, particularly in the dry bulk and containership segments.

The outlook for the tanker segment remains stable as low crude oil prices will continue to boost demand for tankers.

“Even though the tanker segment continues to perform strongly, we expect the supply-demand gap for the industry overall to exceed 2% in 2016, and possibly into 2017, as large new vessel deliveries coincide with subdued demand for dry bulk and container ships,” says Marie Fischer-Sabatie, a Moody’s Senior Vice President and author of Moody’s report, titled “Outlook Update: Shipping – Global: Weakness in Dry Bulk, Container Segments Drives Outlook Change to Negative.”

China’s slowdown is weighing on demand for commodities, such as coal and iron ore, which in turn affects dry bulk seaborne transportation demand, the report shows.

On the back of weaker freight rates in the dry bulk and containership segments, Moody’s now forecasts a low single-digit percentage decline in aggregate EBITDA for the rated shipping companies in 2016, versus growth in the low single-digits in its previous forecast late last year.

According to the forecast, while fuel prices, which make up a large cost item for container shipping companies, have continued to fall over the past six months, the benefits to the container shipping segment will fade somewhat in 2016 because they have already passed lower fuel costs on to their customers via reduced freight rates, limiting the upside.

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