June 22 - Shipping confidence reached its equal highest rating in the past three years in the three months to end May 2017, according to the latest Shipping Confidence Survey from international accountant and shipping adviser Moore Stephens.

The average confidence level expressed by respondents to the survey was up to 6.1 out of 10.0 from the 5.6 recorded in the previous survey in February 2017.

Respondents to the survey continued to express cautious optimism about the industry's fortunes over the next 12 months, based largely on perceived increased levels of ship demolition and a rationalisation of over-ambitious newbuilding plans.

According to Moore Stephens, this helped increase the expectations of major investments being made over the next 12 months. The survey found that the likelihood of respondents making a major investment or significant development in the following year was up from 4.9 out of 10.0 in the previous survey to 5.4, the highest level since August 2014.

The number of respondents expecting higher freight rates over the next 12 months was also up on the previous survey in all three main tonnage categories - tanker, dry bulk and container.

However, concerns persisted over political uncertainty, overtonnaging in certain trades, depressed oil prices and a potential dearth of quality seafarers.

Richard Greiner, Moore Stephens partner, Shipping & Transport, explained that the confidence figure of 6.1 must be seen as a robust rating, "given geopolitical, economic and industry developments."

He adds: "The positive sentiment on freight rates is welcome, although this must be weighed against the lows to which they have fallen and from which they must continue to recover.
"Even for an industry which is familiar with the volatile nature of international commerce, shipping's ability to survive adversity is worthy of comment. Our latest survey found many of our respondents in watchful mode, mindful of the fact that there are still too many ships, but encouraged to believe that increased demolition and more pragmatism by industry stakeholders will help to redress this imbalance. Respondents also remain cognisant of the impact which geopolitical developments can have on shipping, and it will be instructive to see what effect all this will have on industry confidence in our next quarterly survey."

Richard Greiner, Moore Stephens partner, Shipping & Transport