Moore Stephens: Shipping Confidence Slips on Geopolitical Factors

ShippingIllustration; Image Courtesy: Pixabay under CC 2.0 license

Shipping confidence dipped very slightly in the three months to end-August 2018, Moore Stephens’ latest Shipping Confidence Survey showed.

The average confidence level expressed by respondents was down to 6.3 out of a maximum possible score of 10.0, this compared to the four-year-high of 6.4 recorded in May 2018. Confidence on the part of owners, however, was up from 6.6 to 6.8, equalling the highest level achieved by this category of respondent when the survey was launched in May 2008, with an overall rating for all respondents of 6.8 out of 10.0.

Confidence on the part of charterers was also up, from 6.7 to 7.0, the highest level for nine months. The rating for managers, however, was down from 6.7 to 6.2, and for brokers from 6.3 to 4.9. Confidence in Asia was up from 6.1 to 6.3, equalling the highest rating achieved over the past 12 months.

The number of respondents expecting higher rates over the next 12 months in the tanker trades was up by 3 percentage points to 53%. In the dry bulk sector, there was a 16 percentage-point fall, to 38%, in the numbers anticipating higher rates, while the numbers expecting higher container ship rates fell from 43% to 26%. Net sentiment in the tanker sector was +44, in the dry bulk trades +27, and for container ships +3.

In a stand-alone question, 44% of respondents said they expected tariff wars to have “some” impact on the industry over the next 12 months. Meanwhile, 42% categorised such impact as “considerable,” and 11% felt that it would be “minimal”.

“A small dip in confidence is not the news the industry wanted to hear, but confidence remains at its second-highest level for four-and-half years. Moreover, it is significant that the confidence of both owners and charterers actually increased,” Richard Greiner, Partner, Shipping & Transport, said.

“Concerns about geopolitical factors dominated the comments from respondents. These were led by President Trump’s efforts to transform US trade relations, but also included state support for shipping in China and South Korea. Shipping will always stand to reap the benefits of its global identity and presence, but will also court the risks that this must inevitably embrace.”

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