Confidence rising in shipping industry: survey

CONFIDENCE in the shipping industry has improved over the past three months, the latest Shipping Confidence Survey from BDO/Moore Stephens shows

08 April 2019 - 19:00

CONFIDENCE in the shipping industry has improved over the past three months, the latest Shipping Confidence Survey from BDO/Moore Stephens shows.

The average confidence level rose to 6.2 out of maximum score of 10 in the first quarter of this year, compared to a score of six in the fourth quarter of 2018.

Brokers were behind much of this increase. Their score was up from 5.2 to 5.9. The rating for owners and managers was down slightly from 6.4 to 6.3 and from six to 5.8 respectively. Charterers' confidence also fell, from 6.8 to six, reported London's Tanker Operator.

The likelihood of respondents making a major investment or significant development over the next 12 months was down from 5.5 to 5.3. Charterers' confidence in this regard hit a record high of 7.3.

Brokers' confidence also rose, from 4.1 to 4.9. However, owners recorded a decline from 6.3 to 5.4. Managers' ratings were unchanged at 5.6. Expectations were up in Europe from 5.2 to 5.3, but fell in Asia from 6.2 to 5.2.

The number of respondents who expected finance costs to rise over the coming year dropped from 67 per cent to 48 per cent, the lowest figure since August 2016. The figures for all categories of respondent were down, in the case of charterers from 80 per cent to 33 per cent.

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

Net freight rate sentiment was positive in all three main tonnage categories examined, with 51 per cent of respondents expecting higher rates over the next 12 months in the tanker market. This represents a decrease of nine per cent compared with the earlier survey score of 60 per cent. Respondents anticipating lower tanker rates dropped from nine per cent to six per cent in the first quarter of 2018.

BDO's partner Richard Greiner said: 'It is encouraging to begin the year with a small uptick in confidence. Despite continuing doubts and fears about trade wars, China's GDP, uncertainty over exchange rates, President Trump's decision-making, Brexit and general political instability in many parts of the world, shipping can still find reasons to be cheerful.

'Net freight rate sentiment remains positive in all three main tonnage categories and there is a growing recognition that shipping is emerging from an extremely difficult period as a leaner and greener industry.

'There appears to be general recognition that the likes of the IMO 2020 and Ballast Water Management regulations will help rid the industry of poorly maintained tonnage and increase both the viability and the pedigree of the world fleet.

'This will also appeal to potential investors looking to back environmentally compliant and technologically savvy industries. It seems that the shipping industry must prioritise achieving the benefits of regulatory compliance and technological innovation over the coming years,' he concluded.


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