A bleak outlook for the big ships with the list of spot ships growing daily and even when most hoped that rates could not go lower, they did. The key West Australia/China rate was now hovering in the low $4.00 range (down from $5.00 pre-holidays) with little prospect of recovery. In the coal trades BHP Billiton fixed a 162,000 tonne 10% cargo from Hay Point to Qingdao for end January-early February at $5.15 – 65 cents down on the last down prior to Christmas. A 173,000 tonner open Beilun was booked for a Newcastle/China run at just $3,500 daily. Rates from Richards Bay to Rotterdam were under $4.00.
Activity from Brazil was negligible with ships idling off South Africa and those still moving taking low rates, especially to the Continent. A 179,000 tonner spot off the Cape of Good Hope eventually fixed for aps Brazil for a trip to the Continent at $3,000 daily plus a $120,000 bonus. Brazil/China cargoes were in short supply and a 170,000 tonne 10% lot fixed from Itagaui to Qingdao at $9.90. A charterer with a cargo from Tubarao to Qingdao was aiming at sub $9.50.
There had been a glimmer of hope of improved rates for transatlantic tonnage but an increase in cargoes earlier this week so far has proved short lived. A 180,000 tonner agreed under $5,000 daily for Gibraltar delivery and Gibraltar-Skaw redelivery.
A steady flow of Atlantic enquiry earlier this week did little to prevent falls in rates with current spot ships adding to the list of spot ships overhanging from before the holidays. Charterers were able to fix voyage business and aps rates with little effort. There has been increased activity from the US Gulf and South America but rates agreed were mixed and often positional. Rates for transatlantic cargoes from the US Gulf to the Continent were not much more than $10,000 daily plus a $100,000 bonus, and trips for a 74,000 tonner were likely to be under $12,000 daily with a $200,000 bonus. Eco ships and kamarmaxes could expect more. Similarly South American rates varied with a 77,000 tonner fixed from Recalada to China at $12,250 daily plus a $225,000 bonus. Voyage rates for grain from Brazil to China were around $22.50 for February.
In the East too there remained a healthy supply of tonnage and although some owners were trying to resist, rates slipped. Eco ships have in some instances seen rates nudging $7,000 daily for Japan delivery for NoPac rounds but these have been ‘Super’ types. A 73,000 tonner open Zhoushan fixed for a west Australia/China run with grains at $5,000 daily.
Period rates were barely at spot rates for short periods.
The first full week back from the holiday period meant difficult trading conditions for owners in most areas. Tonnage supply outweighed demand in the South Atlantic where it was reported that a 2005 built 56,000 dwt unit spot off south Brazil had been booked for a trip to Singapore-Japan at $11,100 daily plus a ballast bonus of $125,000. Further north a similarly described vessel in ballast from Gibraltar was reportedly booked delivery north coast South America for a trip to the Black Sea at $15,500 daily. There was little to enthuse about in the Atlantic in the handysize sector, a 36,000 dwt rumoured to have fixed a trip from Skaw via the Baltic to Italy in the mid $9,000’s. In the Black Sea a large handysize was said to be treating a trip to the US Gulf around $4,000 daily and another handysize was allegedly working a trip from Morocco to Brazil at something under $3,000 daily.
In the East, the market was perhaps not suffering quite so much, but the stream of newbuildings adding to the lists of tonnage were not helping owners. One report suggested that a 64,000 dwt new-building ultramax had been fixed delivery NoPac for a trip to the Philippines at about $9,500 + $300,000 but this could not be verified. In the Indian Ocean a 2011 built 57,300 dwt vessel was reported to have been booked delivery South Africa for a trip to the East at about $8,250 daily plus a $165,000 ballast bonus. Despite the plethora of handysizes in South East Asia, rates appear to be holding reasonably steady. A 28,000 dwt as a replacement secured $7,000 daily delivery Singapore for a round voyage via Australia. Another Imabari type in Indonesia was rumoured to have gone for similar business in the mid/high $6,000’s but this was not confirmed. Earlier in the week a 34,000 tonner, also open Singapore, went for two/three laden legs at $8,000 daily.