Dry bulk market enters recovery mode, on increased Capesize demand


Friday, 14 March 2014 | 00:00

The dry bulk market has entered and sustained higher ground as of this week, on the back on increased Capesize demand. Although the situation in the grain market, as a result of the crisis in Ukraine is a major concern, potentially altering trade routes and patterns, the fall in iron ore prices could lead to yet another wave of restocking among Chinese steelmakers, which can seize the opportunity to attain the raw material at significantly lower prices. Yesterday, the Baltic Dry Index (BDI) increased by 15 points, reaching 1,468 points, although during the week it had briefly surpassed the 1,500 point mark. The "charge" was led by the Capesize segment, which was higher by 54 points yesterday, with the Baltic Capesize Index (BCI) reading 2,654 points. Smaller increases were also evident in the smaller ship classes, particularly in the Supramax market.

In its latest weekly report, commenting on the Capesize market, shipbroker Fearnleys noted that it was "a tumultuous week for the big ships, which has seen significant value chipped off the forward curve (Q4 down $4,500 w-o-w) and as of Wednesday, a significant correction in physical rates. (The West Australia index rose to low $11´s before sharply correcting to $9 PMT levels at the time of writing.) The week began with Iron Ore plunging to $104 PMT (62% FE CFR Tianjin), the largest daily loss since 2009, amid talks of a credit squeeze and mounting port stockpiles in China. The arguments will continue as to whether this commodity price correction will have a bullish (cheaper relative foreign iron ore availability) versus bearish (signs of a general reduction in demand) impact on cargo flow but what is undeniable is that a few more questions are being posed. In light of this, it is perhaps not surprising that we saw a 5-year deal on a nice 180kdwt ship at 28k/day fail early this week. Further losses on the paper may see more charterers retreating to reassess their period plays", Fearnleys noted in its report.
Meanwhile, on the Panamax market, it said that "the recent optimism driven by the "caper" and the paper has evaporated with further negative support from a clear lack of fresh requirements. The poor trend is obvious in the Atlantic where Owners are willing to take 5k on T/C for a short run, and less on voyage. Chrtrs have a growing list of candidates to select from, but as Owners are reluctant to fix there could be pockets giving better returns. However, optimism is still alive among all the Owners of the substantial number of vessels heading for ECSA grain to catch a Brazilian contango. Rates have in fact improved to 17k + 700 GBB APS ECSA and well above 41 pmt for April loading. The eastern hemisphere is softening for the same reasons, lack of activity and/or repositioning for ECSA grains. Typical levels at 10-11k. NOPAC activity is scarce. The forward curve has lost momentum, whereas period rates still hover in the 14-15 range for short period up to a year".

Finally, on the Handy markets, Fearnleys said that "Atlantic is a bit under pressure for spot tonnage, but the underlying sentiment is positive for the short medium future. 2-3 legs are done at 12, 750. Fronthaul typically at 19k. The Far East market is in an upward trend, with few ppt vessels available. For short period vessels open N.China and S.China mid 14´s is achievable. NOPAC runs in the mid 13k where trips via Indo to EC India paying low 15k. Vessel in WCI can achieve around 12k for trips to Feast where vessels in MEG and Red Sea were fixed at around 14k for same direction", the shipbroker concluded.

Meanwhile, on the demolition front, shipbroker Intermodal said that "limited activity and firm numbers, is pretty much what is currently describing the demolition market. Indian breakers, being the ones that usually set the tone across the board, are currently enjoying strong fundamentals domestically. On the one hand the Indian Rupee is continuing its rally against the US Dollar. The Indian currency has in fact touched a seven-month high against its counterpart yesterday, as foreign funds have flooded both the Indian debt and equities market. At the same time, steel prices have held firm, at levels which allowed local buyers to feel even more confident in relation to those high end bids that we have been witnessing the past few weeks. Across the Indian Sub-Continent Pakistani breakers have finally left the sidelines and got back into action snapping one of their favorite type of vessels, while at the same time increasing their offers to match competition. The rest of the market remained stable, with Bangladeshi breakers assuming a small piece of the action and those in China sitting still for yet another week. Average prices this week for wet tonnage were at around 330-470$/ldt and dry units received about 320-465$/ldt", Intermodal concluded. Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide