According to the latest survey from international accountant and shipping adviser Moore Stephens, shipping confidence dipped slightly in the three months to end-November 2018 falling to 6 out of a maximum score of 10.
In August 2018, confidence levels expressed by respondents reached 6.3 out of 10, as HLPFI reported here.
According to Moore Stephens, owners’ confidence fell to 6.4 from 6.8, while the confidence rating for managers fell from 6.2 to 6. For charterers, confidence levels dropped from 7.0 to 6.8.
Geographically, confidence was down in Europe and in North America but held steady in Asia at 6.3, equalling the highest rating achieved over the past 12 months.
The likelihood of respondents making a major investment or significant development over the next 12 months was unchanged, however, at 5.5 out of a maximum score of 10.
The number of respondents who expected finance costs to increase over the coming year was up from 59 percent to 67 percent.
In a stand-alone question, 24 percent of respondents said they expected the price differential between high-sulphur fuel oil (HFO) and IMO-compliant low-sulphur fuel oil as of January 1, 2020 to be between USD250 and USD324 per tonne.
23 percent of respondents expected the figure to be between USD175 and USD249, while 18 percent estimated it to be between USD325 and USD399. 12 percent thought the cost differential would fall between USD100 and USD174.
Richard Greiner, Moore Stephens partner, shipping and transport, said: “It is disappointing to close the year with a small downward tick in confidence. But shipping is nothing if not volatile, and there will always be ups and downs. We should not forget, either, that it was in 2018 that confidence reached a four-year high.
“It is encouraging to see that the appetite for new investment was not deterred by the drop in confidence. New investment is something that will clearly be needed moving forward, not least to fund expenditure on the technology necessary to achieve compliance with existing and evolving regulatory requirements, and this against a backdrop of rising finance costs over the coming year.
“Increased costs are inevitable. Increased earnings are essential,” added Greiner.