BDO: Shipping Confidence Slightly Down over Trade War Concerns

Shippinglllustration; Source: Pixabay under CC0 Creative Commons license

Confidence in the shipping industry has fallen marginally over the past three months, mainly due to the ongoing concern over trade wars and increased regulation, according to shipping adviser and accountant BDO.

The latest Shipping Confidence Survey showed that the average confidence level in the three months to May 2019 was 6.1 out of a possible maximum of 10.0. This is slightly down on the figure of 6.2 recorded in February 2019.

Confidence was up in Asia, from 5.8 to 6.0, and in North America, from 5.6 to 6.4. In Europe, meanwhile, there was a drop in overall confidence levels from 6.3 to 6.1.

The chartering sector saw an increase in confidence level to 6.2 from 6.0 three months ago. The ratings for owners and managers, meanwhile, were unchanged at 6.3 and 5.8 respectively, while the rating for brokers was down from 5.9 to 5.7.

The likelihood of respondents making a major investment or significant development over the coming year was up from 5.3 to 5.4 out of 10.0. Owners’ confidence in this regard was up from 5.4 to 6.3, while the rating for charterers was 5.6 compared to the survey high of 7.3 recorded last time.

The number of respondents who expected finance costs to increase over the coming year was unchanged at 48%. The figures for owners and brokers were down, but up in the case of charterers and managers.

Demand trends were cited by 26% of respondents as the factor most likely to influence performance over the next 12 months. Competition (19%) and finance costs (13%) featured in second and third place respectively in this context.

The number of respondents expecting higher freight rates over the next 12 months in the tanker market was up by 4 percentage points on the previous survey to 55%, with charterers (75%) leading the way. In the dry bulk sector, expectations of rate increases were down overall from 52% to 48%, with charterers the only category recording an increase in expectation levels. The numbers expecting higher container ship rates, meanwhile, rose by 9 percentage points to 35%.

“A small dip in confidence is not surprising given the recent volatility generated by the US-China trade wars, the heightened tension in the Arabian Gulf, the failure to conclude Brexit negotiations, and general political instability in many parts of the world. Markets love volatility, but it can have an adverse effect on confidence,” Richard Greiner, Partner, Shipping & Transport, said.

“Despite the challenges the industry is facing, there are a number of positive indicators. New technology is making shipping more attractive to investors, and will moreover act as a trigger to accelerate the pace and extent of recycling. Higher freight rates should logically follow, and those who hold their nerve will ultimately benefit.”

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