The rally of the dry bulk market was undoubtedly one of the shipping industry’s highs during 2017. This was achieved on the back of a rebound in global economic growth, which in turn led to increased demand for dry bulk commodities around the world, but also as a result of restrain in terms of new tonnage supply.
In its latest weekly report, shipbroker Intermodal noted that “according to a special report by the Economist, in the first half of 2017 the volume of the emerging-market exports increased by 4.6% compared to a year earlier, the fastest growth since 2011; not only this, during the same period the BRIC economies (Brazil, Russia, India and China) all grew simultaneously for the first time in three years and for the first time since 2009, twenty one out of twenty four emerging countries have reported higher – than the previous quarter – quarterly GDP figures”.
According to Intermodal’s Theodoros Ntalakos, SnP Broker, “after exceeding expectations in 2017, the global economy is projected to carry forward its current momentum to generate a 3% growth rate in 2018. China, the biggest contributor and the barometer of the shipping indexes, is expected to grow a bit slower compared to 2017, leaving India as the fastest-growing large economy contributing a growth of 7.8% in the world’s GDP. The other countries of the area are also expected to hit growth in excess of 6%. The developed countries will also contribute since the momentum in mature economies increased during 2017 and it is expected to continue growing by a healthy 2.1% in 2018 – compared to the 1.8% 5-year average”.
Ntalakos added that “on the ship supply side, the dry bulk fleet (>20,000dwt) just exceeded ten thousand vessels (for the record, ten years ago the fleet was less than seven thousand ships); Whilst 430 vessels were delivered in 2017 the fleet increased by 226 vessels (2.3% fleet growth) as more than 200 bulk carriers were sold for demolition. For 2018 it is projected that the shipbuilders will deliver another four hundred forty vessels; so, if we can assume at least the same demolition activity with 2017 then the fleet growth will increase by about the same number of ships – less if you count slippage and non-reported cancellations. In absolute numbers the orderbook is also smaller compared to last year by about one hundred vessels. This means that despite all the 2017 placed orders, the orderbook was not replenished. The orderbook-to-fleet ratio is also at low levels not seen for many years, 9% for Handysize up to Kamsarmax size and 10% for Capes. So, with sustainable global economic growth, this could mean good news for shipowners”.
According to the analyst, after disappointing global growth over the past few years, this recent pickup combined with the relatively subdued fleet growth provides an ideal window of opportunity for the shipping industry to enjoy good returns.