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Shipping confidence at three year high: Moore Stephens

Shipping confidence at three year high: Moore Stephens
Moore Stephens surveys have found that overall confidence levels in the shipping industry are at their highest in over three years, buoyed by “encouraging” freight rates.

November 2013 saw the average confidence level rise to 6.1 out of 10, the highest since the 6.2 recorded in August 2010. However, increases were only demonstrated by owners, from an average of 5.8 in the August 2013 survey to 6.2 in November. Confidence among managers dropped from 6.2 to 6.1, and charterer confidence fell from 6.3 to 5.7.

Respondents also showed a wavering of confidence in Asia, dropping from 6.1 to 5.9, compared with Europe, which exhibited a jump from 5.9 to 6.1, despite a previous survey in which one respondent remarked that “the best people now are going to Singapore instead of coming to London.” Confidence in North America, meanwhile, increased dramatically from 6.0 to 6.6.

“There is, for the first time in a long while, a general feeling of optimism,” one respondent noted. “The economic indicators, both small and large, all over the world, are pointing in the direction of recovery. We cannot expect it to reach the same levels as in 2007/2008, but a sustainable level of confidence is much better than skyrocketing markets because the higher you climb the lower you might fall.”

Other positive observations from those surveyed included “some good signs of…a growing global economy, including the US and the EU”; “[growth] in Asia, and in Brazil and Russia”; and “an increase in the use of gas as an alternative energy source, with many countries developing infrastructure and facilities to facilitate distribution.”

More sceptical responses included concern regarding excess shipbuilding capacity “which, coupled with the entry of new investors, will lead to a continuation in the current oversupply of tonnage and low rates”. One respondent wrote: “We need to convince owners to stop building ships, especially tankers.”

One respondent even claimed: “All non-operator-owned container ships need to be removed from the market, so that oversupply can be corrected.”

Moore Stephens shipping partner, Richard Greiner called the results “A clear indication that [markets] are perceived to be improving”:

“The findings of this latest survey provide more good news for the shipping industry. It is now 15 months since we recorded a decline in shipping confidence. There is an old adage which says that confidence is contagious. If that is true, shipping certainly seems to have caught the bug.”