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Maritime Markets Outlook: Shipping’s half-year health check

Lloyd’s List and Lloyd’s List Intelligence offer a unique data-led analysis of the trends shaping the shipping markets

The Lloyd’s List Half-year outlook 2021 takes the temperature of the core maritime trades and offers a view on the market dynamics during the coming six to 12 months. Joining editor Richard Meade to consider the core box, bulk and tanker trade trends are: markets editor Michelle Wiese Bockmann, containers editor James Baker and senior dry bulk reporter Nidaa Bakhsh

WITHOUT wishing to jinx it, as we pause for Lloyd’s List’s traditional six-month health check on the state of the market, we have found shipping to be in a good place — albeit with all the usual fears of tipping points that could yet snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Granted, tankers may be in the doldrums right now, but squint hard enough and the optimism is there that the 3bn vaccine doses administered worldwide so far are going to lead the recovery.

Meanwhile, China has delivered for dry bulk and the US consumer has delivered for the box trades in spades.

The container sector, of course, is the star of the show right now in terms of earnings and this year is shaping up to be one of the most profitable in the sector’s history.

Ships that would have struggled to make scrap value last year are changing hands with price tags that nobody thought possible, companies that were on life support have miraculously been brought back from the dead and owners that have barely cracked a smile in the past decade are suddenly smiling as rates skyrocket.

On the dry side of the markets, the party may be less exuberant, but it is still the biggest blast the sector has seen for several years — and it is not slowing down any time soon.

For tanker owners suffering a third consecutive quarter of awful earnings, we can only offer the hope of parties yet to come. Demand for crude and refined products is rebounding — finally  — but is not forecast to return to pre-pandemic levels until the end of 2022 at the earliest.

As with our usual monthly examination of market trends the team take a deep dive into the data and offer their expert view on what happens next. Lloyd’s List subscribers can access and download the full report here

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