Shipping confidence held steady at the four-year high of 6.4 out of 10 in the three months to the end of May 2018, according to the latest confidence survey from international accountant and shipping adviser Moore Stephens.
Confidence on the part of owners was also sustained at a four-year high of 6.6, while managers’ confidence was up from 6.4 to 6.7. The rating for charterers was up to 6.7 from 5 and confidence in the broking sector was up from 6.1 to 6.3.
The likelihood of respondents making a major investment or significant development over the next 12 months was down on the previous survey from 5.5 to 5.2. Confidence was highest among charterers, followed by owners (down from 5.9 to 5.5), managers (down from 5.6 to 5.4) and brokers (down from 4 to 3.5).
The number of respondents who expected finance costs to increase over the coming year was down to 63 percent from 64 percent. Whereas, in the previous survey, charterers were unanimous in expecting finance costs to increase, just a third were of that opinion this time.
Richard Greiner, Moore Stephens partner, shipping and transport, said: “It is two years since our survey reflected any decline in confidence. Net freight rate sentiment was significantly up in all the main tonnage categories. Shipping still has problems to overcome, but it continues to punch above its weight in terms of optimism.”
The survey was launched in 2008 just months before the global financial recession. Shipping markets were buoyant at the time, with an average confidence level of 6.8 out 10.
According to Moore Stephens, over the past ten years, confidence averages out at 5.8 out of 10. The low point was the 5 out of 10 recorded in February 2016 and, since then, Moore Stephens says shipping confidence has only improved or been maintained.
Greiner said: “The survey reflects the sentiments of a volatile industry in a particularly volatile decade. Significant events have included the peak of a boom, a prolonged global financial recession, crises in the banking sector, the collapse of stock markets, the Greek debt crisis, Brexit, and an unprecedented level of government and industry bailouts.
“Ten years is a long time in shipping, and the past decade has doubtless felt a lot longer still to those industry participants who have lived through it, even those inured to the peculiar cyclicality of the industry. Confidence may have fluctuated, but it has never collapsed, and portents for the coming decade can reasonably be expected to be better.”