Shipping confidence held steady at its highest rating for the past three-and-a-half years in the three months to end-November 2017, according to the latest Shipping Confidence Survey from international accountant and shipping adviser Moore S
The average confidence level expressed by respondents was unchanged at 6.2 out of 10, as recorded in the previous survey in August 2017.
Confidence on the part of charterers rose significantly from 4.7 to 7.7, the highest rating recorded for this category of respondent since the survey was launched in May 2008. Managers, with a rating up from 5.8 to 6.1, were also more optimistic, while brokers' confidence was unchanged at 6.3.
The rating for owners, however, fell from 6.5 to 6.4. Confidence levels were down in Asia, from 6.4 to 5.7, and unchanged in Europe and North America, at 6.3 and 5.8 respectively.
The likelihood of respondents making a major investment or significant development over the next 12 months was down from 5.4 to 5.3 out of 10. Expectations on the part of owners and brokers were up from 5.8 to 5.9 and from 4.4 to 5.3 respectively, but down from 5.4 to 5.3 for managers. Asian respondents, with a rating down from 5.9 to 5, were less confident in this regard, but in North America the rating was up from 4.9 to 5.4. In Europe, expectations held steady at 5.2.
Although overall expectations of making major investments over the next 12 months were marginally down on the three-year high recorded in the previous survey, Moore Stephens says several respondents saw encouraging signs of recovery, and potential for further improvement, particularly in the dry bulk sector.
Despite a fall from 27 percent to 23 percent, demand trends continued to be the factor expected to influence performance most significantly over the coming 12 months, followed by competition and finance costs. According to Moore Stephens, one respondent said: "Shipping continues to be volatile and unstable, with an oversupply of tonnage, and new finance continuing to pour in, while geopolitical issues and new regulations are causing disruption."
Richard Greiner, Moore Stephens partner, Shipping & Transport, said: "Confidence is at its highest level for three-and-a-half years, testament to the industry's remarkable durability.
"Not all our respondents were upbeat and uncertainty persists, for example, over how and when to comply with the Ballast Water Management Convention and the true extent of cyber crime. But the portents, overall, are encouraging.
"A slowdown in newbuilding activity has started to redress the imbalance in supply and demand, and that should be reflected in improved freight rates. There is an appetite for investment, and finance is available. The shipping recovery might not yet be fully under way, but 2017 may come to be regarded as the year when the downward spiral was halted."