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Shipping industry confidence up: Moore Stephens

Shipping industry confidence up: Moore Stephens
London: Spirits are at a two year high in the shipping industry according to Moore Stephens' latest shipping confidence survey.

The average confidence level on a scale of one to 10 (low to high) was 5.8 for February 2013, up on November 2012's 5.6 but still a way off the 6.8 recorded when the survey was launched in May 2008.

Managers returned a 6.2 confidence level, up from last survey's 6.0 and the highest record since August 2010, charterers rose 0.4 points to 6.0, the highest since November 2010, owners were up from 5.5 to 5.7 and brokers rose from 5.3 to 5.6. Geographically, confidence in Asia fell from 5.6 to 6.0 and from 6.6 to 6.1 in North America whilst the Europeans were more upbeat, rising from 5.3 to August 2010's level of 5.8.

Not all respondents shared a happy outlook, one commented that, “the shipping market has been getting worse every year since 2008, and there is unlikely to be any improvement in 2013. There are still crazy shipowners ordering new ships which will hit the water in two years’ time, so the world fleet will keep increasing at a faster rate than will cargo volumes.” whilst another warned, “be careful when selecting your counter-parties, and be happy if you are able to cover your expenses in today's market.”

Commenting on the results, Moore Stephens shipping partner, Richard Greiner said "Another small increase in confidence is very good news. Indeed, two successive quarters of improved confidence is in many ways more encouraging than one sizeable swing. It suggests that confidence is slowly building, indicating the start of a credible recovery.

“Although freight rates still have a long way to go before they reach the levels seen at the height of the boom, the responses to the survey did reveal greater overall confidence in rate increases over the coming year in all three main tonnage categories. This was most evident in the dry bulk sector, where expectations of better rates were higher than at any time since the survey was launched in 2008. Although there is still a lot of new dry bulk tonnage coming into the market, scrapping levels in this sector have raced ahead, with well over 500 bulk carriers reported to have been consigned to demolition yards in 2012.

“Scrapping levels in all over-tonnaged sectors will need to be maintained, and improved upon, over the next twelve months, if shipping is to have a chance of returning to profitability. It is likely to be a slightly different industry which emerges from this prolonged downturn, one in which the banks will exert greater control for some time to come. Vessel values are likely to remain under pressure this year, and there is a lot of financial restructuring yet to be done. But shipping will retain its entrepreneurial flair, which is in no way undermined by operating from a stronger financial base.”

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