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CONFIDENCE in how the market is going to perform seems to go up and down like a yo-yo. The latest report by accountants Moore Stephens seems to be more gloomy about prospects than previous ones, and there are certainly plenty of people on the party circuit who feel that 2011 is going to be worse than 2010, but maybe that is more a reflection of the quality of the wine and canapes served at recessionary receptions these days.

In the November 2010 Moore Stephens Shipping confidence survey, the average confidence level expressed by respondents in the markets in which they operate was 6.0 on a scale of 1 to 10, compared to 6.2 in the previous survey in August. Confidence over the past three months fell most noticeably on the part of owners and managers (down from 6.1 to 5.8 and from 6.4 to 6.1 respectively), followed by charterers, down from 6.3 to 6.1. Geographically, confidence on the part of respondents in Europe was down from 6.1 to 5.7, while in Asia it remained unchanged at 6.2.

It's easy to dismiss this kind of information, but let's not forget that it's confidence that takes us into and out of recessions as much as economic fundamentals.

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