March 23 - Shipping confidence held steady in the three months to end-February 2017, according to the latest Shipping Confidence Survey from international accountant and shipping adviser Moore Stephens.
The average confidence level expressed by respondents in February 2017 was 5.6 out of 10.0, unchanged from the previous survey in November 2016 and equal to the highest rating since August 2015.
The survey revealed that owners were the only main category to show an improved level of confidence, up from 5.4 to 5.6. Confidence on the part of charterers was down from its all-time survey high of 6.8 to 5.9, while that of managers fell from 6.4 to 6.0.
Confidence was up in Europe and North America, from 5.4 to 5.5 and 5.9 to 6.1 respectively, but down from 5.7 to 5.6 in Asia.
Richard Greiner, Moore Stephens partner, Shipping & Transport, said: "After three successive quarterly increases, shipping confidence has held steady. This is encouraging given the continuing political uncertainty in the USA and Europe. Shipping is vulnerable to changes in the political landscape and a slew of elections in leading industrialised nations will render it particularly so this year.
"Elsewhere, the issues facing the industry include an oversupply of ships and insufficient demolition. Freight markets are dragging along the bottom in many sectors, with net rate sentiment in the tanker market being particularly low. Add to this the expectation of higher ship finance costs, the mounting costs of regulation, the threat of cybercrime and projected increases in operating costs and it is evident that shipping will not be a picnic for the foreseeable future.
"But shipping is not a natural fit for the pessimist, and those with meaningful experience of the industry will be looking with some justification for a re-strengthening of rates in the tanker and dry bulk trades, supported by continued rationalisation of newbuilding plans and accelerated recycling levels. Meanwhile, oil prices will continue to go up, which is mixed news for the shipping industry. For those who can effectively manage risk and volatility, shipping is still the place to be."