Shipping Confidence Survey March 2017

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Shipping confidence held steady in the three months to end-February 2017, as recorded in our latest Shipping Confidence Survey.

In February 2017, the average confidence level expressed by respondents was 5.6 out of 10.0, unchanged from the previous survey in November 2016 and equal to the highest rating since August 2015. Owners were the only main category to show an improved level of confidence, up from 5.4 to 5.6. Confidence on the part of charterers was down from its all-time survey high of 6.8 to 5.9, while that of managers fell from 6.4 to 6.0. Confidence levels in the broking sector, meanwhile, dropped from 5.6 to 4.6. The survey launched in May 2008 with an overall confidence rating of 6.8.

Respondents generally felt that competition was running at very high levels, while other familiar concerns included overtonnaging and geopolitical uncertainty. Most respondents saw 2017 as a year of retrenchment rather than improvement. Managers’ expectations were up from 5.2 to 5.6, the highest level since August 2015. Owners’ expectations were also up, from 5.0 to 5.1, but those of charterers and brokers were down, from 6.4 to 5.8 and 3.8 to 3.4 respectively.

After three successive quarterly increases, shipping confidence has held steady. This is encouraging given the continuing political uncertainty in the US and Europe. Shipping is vulnerable to changes in the political landscape, and a slew of elections in leading industrialised nations will render it particularly so this year.