The BCI fell to new lows this week with one of the longest periods of weak rates seen in many years. Some owners now have ships in ‘soft’ lay up, but operators need to keep vessels moving and chased business. Despite a good volume of fixing on the West Australia/China run rates continued around the mid $4.00 range for cargoes loading in the latter part of March. Timecharter rates were hovering around $4,000 daily with a 176,000-tonner fixed from Rizhao for a round voyage at $3,500 daily for south of Shanghai or $4,000 daily for north of Shanghai. However there was talk that much lower has now been fixed. The Brazil/China rate had been holding around the mid $10.00 range, but a 1-10 April cargo was done this week at $10.25. There was very little reported fixed in the north Atlantic and rates continued to slip. A 181,000-tonner spot Continent fixed for delivery in a few days time at something shy of $4,000 daily for a transatlantic round.
The focus here remained on South America and it appeared that the rates were slowly improving even for March ships. A kamsarmax (coming from India) with Recalada delivery 25 March agreed $11,750 daily plus a $175,000 bonus for a trip to the East – a rate that was not on the table at the beginning of the week. There was talk today that a 79,000-tonner went at $12,000 daily plus a $190,000 bonus for 25-30 March delivery east coast South America for Singapore-Japan. Further north owners faced a struggle to fix with very little transatlantic business with the mineral trades from the US east coast and US Gulf thin and little short haul business in northwest Europe.
In the East rates held steady as the week closed out. A significant amount of fixing in the first half of the week helped reduce the tonnage list, but fresh business was slower to emerge as charterers took a breather. Rates for eco ships from Japan neared $7,000 daily and at the end of the week. A 75,000-tonner open Tianjin fixed at $5,750 daily for a trip via Vancouver to the East with one of the grain houses.
Handysizes in the US Gulf remain tight and appear to be enjoying better times: a three year old 35,000 tonner obtained $11,000 daily for a trip from the Gulf to west coast South America. A 37,000 tonner was trading a trip to the Black Sea around $10,000 daily, with unconfirmed talk higher rates had been seen for similar trips. A collision between a tanker and a bulk carrier in Houston led to some disruption, notwithstanding a Japanese built 61,000-dwt fixed a trip US Gulf to the Continent at $13,000 daily, a 53,000-dwt went from the US Gulf to the East at $10,000 daily. In the south Atlantic, where there is a reasonable volume of enquiry for supras, a 50,020-dwt built 2000 fixed a trip from east coast South America to the East at a better $9,700 daily with a bonus of $130,000.
A better feeling for supras in the East appears to have encouraged short period trading, with reports of quality 58,000 tonners fixing 4/6 months at $8,000 daily. Further reports of other activity but details remain private. Talk of handysize levels picking up include reports a 34,000 tonner, open south east Asia, fixed a trip via Australia to China at $5,000 daily.
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