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SHIPPING CONFIDENCE UP DESPITE ONGOING GEOPOLITICAL UNCERTAINTY

Monday, March 25, 2019 

Confidence in the shipping industry has risen in the last three months despite ongoing geopolitical uncertainty, according to the latest Shipping Confidence Survey from shipping adviser and accountant BDO.

The average confidence level rose to 6.2 out of maximum score of 10.0 this quarter compared to 6.0 in Q4 2018. Confidence was up in Europe, from 6.1 to 6.3, and in North America, from 5.2 to 5.6. In Asia, meanwhile, there was a drop in overall confidence levels to 5.8 from the 12-month high of 6.3 recorded in the previous quarter.

According to the BDO quarterly survey, the likelihood of respondents making a major investment or significant development over the next 12 months was down from 5.5 to 5.3 out of 10.0. Charterers’ confidence in this regard reached a record high of 7.3. Brokers’ confidence was also up, from 4.1 to 4.9. However, owners recorded a fall from 6.3 to 5.4. Managers’ ratings were unchanged at 5.6.Expectations were up in Europe from 5.2 to 5.3, but down in Asia from 6.2 to 5.2.

When asked to predict where crude oil prices would be in 12 months’ time, 37% of respondents in BDO’s survey opted for the $60-$69/barrel range. This figure is almost identical to the figure of 36% from February 2018. 17% of respondents opted for the $50-$59/barrel range compared to the 19% who did so last year, while 28% favoured the $70-$79/barrel range which was unchanged from 12 months ago.

Richard Greiner (pictured), Partner, Shipping & Transport at BDO, said: “It is encouraging to begin the year with a small uptick in confidence. Despite continuing doubts and fears about trade wars, China’s GDP, uncertainty over exchange rates, President Trump’s decision-making, Brexit and general political instability in many parts of the world, shipping can still find reasons to be cheerful. Net freight rate sentiment remains positive in all three main tonnage categories, and there is a growing recognition that shipping is emerging from an extremely difficult period as a leaner and greener industry.

“A number of respondents noted that the financial difficulties faced by many companies in recent years have changed the dynamics of the industry, with an increase in consolidation, restructuring and mergers & acquisitions. At the same time, there appears to be general recognition that the likes of the IMO 2020 and Ballast Water Management regulations will help rid the industry of poorly maintained tonnage and increase both the viability and the pedigree of the world fleet.

“This will also appeal to potential investors looking to back environmentally compliant and technologically savvy industries. It seems that the shipping industry must prioritise achieving the benefits of regulatory compliance and technological innovation over the coming years.”

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