In terms of demand, MSI notes that the global economy is operating on auto-pilot and, left to its own devices, it is on a trajectory which should support continued trade and earnings growth. Demand trends are fundamentally positive in the U.S. and the E.U., and improved commodity prices will likely support an improvement in non-mainlane volumes.
Taken in isolation, January's supply-side data would be genuine cause for relief across much of the industry. Demolition volumes set a new monthly record, deliveries were minimal and ordering was restrained. If scrapping continues at its current pace, in line with the MSI Base Case forecast, this will go some way toward reducing oversupply.
Despite the apparent good news, some perspective is necessary on the sector’s apparent recovery, says James Frew, senior analyst at MSI.
2017 appears much healthier than 2016, he says, but there are important caveats. “In terms of demand, dependable year on year growth of between two and four percent on the Asia-Europe and Transpacific trades would be welcome, but realistically constitutes the absolute minimum needed to absorb continued overcapacity. In terms of supply, deliveries of ultra-large vessels are soon set to increase, and we expect the fleet as a whole resume growth from Q2 onwards.
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