Shipping confidence rising or is it just relief?

Malcolm Latarche
Malcolm Latarche

27 September 2017


A new report by shipping Consultants Moore Stephens suggest that there was a more optimistic outlook in August but not in all sectors. According to the latest Shipping Confidence Survey, shipping confidence reached its highest rating in the past three years in the three months to end-August 2017 with the average confidence level expressed by respondents to the survey up slightly from the 6.1 out of 10.0 recorded in the previous survey in May 2017 to a three-year high of 6.2. The improved rating was attributable mainly to increased confidence from owners, up from 6.1 to 6.5. Confidence levels on the part of brokers, meanwhile, fell from 6.4 to 6.3, while managers and charterers recorded more substantial drops – from 6.2 to 5.8 and from 6.4 to 4.7 respectively, the lowest levels in both cases since May 2016, Moore Stephens said.

Why the increase in confidence?

Despite familiar concerns about excess tonnage capacity in many trades and continuing uncertainty over Brexit, several respondents saw reasons for optimism over the coming 12 months, not least as a result of what one described as “some green shoots of a relatively broad-based rebound in economic activity.” There are many more statistics in the report and perhaps confidence really is rising – the BDI and recent container rates suggest that there is more certainty. But it is interesting to see that the only group where confidence is rising is the shipowners. Everyone else, brokers, charterers and ship managers are less confident about the future. Since the rise in confidence came in August it is very possible that for shipowners the sense of relief following the effective two-year delay in the ballast convention and the postponement of a very large capital outlay may have a lot to do with it. Since brokers, managers and charterers would not be having to put their hands in their pockets to pay for a ballast system, perhaps their lack of confidence in the future is the more realistic view. To download a copy of the survey report please click here.