A combination of higher bunker prices and a drawdown of ore stocks in China spurred active fixing and this combined with a touch more activity in the Atlantic resulted in some significant gains albeit still at a low base. Midweek saw active trading, with Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton fixing and rates reaching at least $5.60. Yet on Thursday BHP Billiton took at least eight ships but secured tonnage at under $5.50. Today there were rumours of under $5.00 now fixed with a Japanese owner, again highlighting the fragility of the market and dashing hopes of at least holding above $5.00. The scene had looked set for a stronger market, particularly with Brazil active and rates here reaching the mid to upper $12.00 range from Tubarao to Qingdao. The Saldanha Bay/Qingdao run saw substantial gains with $12.15 done basis 1.25%. Timecharter rates too increased in the East with $7,500 daily done for a 179,000 tonner open CJK for a West Australian round, but with voyage rates dropping timecharter levels were expected to fall. In the Atlantic, coal business from Colombia was the driving force and round voyage rates hovered around $7,000 to $7,500 daily with a 179,000 tonner which sailed Immingham 7 May fixing at $7,000 daily
Ships in the East saw some gains this week with a steady stream of new business and owners finally able in many instances to move away from aps and fix dop. Increased domestic China coal movements kept some Chinese ships off the market. A 75,700 tonner open Machong secured $5,000 daily for a trip via Indonesia to east coast India while an eco kamsarmax secured $6,150 daily from Kunsan for a NoPac round voyage with grain. There was increased interest for period tonnage but rates so far reported remained low with a 77,000 dwt 2004 built ship open Hong Kong fixing at $5,650 daily for four to six months trading.
In the Atlantic, transatlantic business remained negligible and rates eased. Voyage rates agreed were showing very poor returns and average panamaxes were struggling to see any business around $5,000 daily for the longer rounds. Fronthaul included a report that an 82,000 tonner agreed $8,500 daily for a trip from Gibraltar via the US Gulf to China at $8,500 daily.
South America has been pivotal to the market for a few weeks but with most of the May business covered and ballasters heading there rates slipped. A 74,000 tonner built 2000 for 1-5 June from east coast South America to the East went at $10,000 daily plus a $100,000 bonus.
Little activity in the Atlantic as European holidays led to a flat market with very few reported fixtures. In the US Gulf a 2011 built 61,400 dwt vessel was reported to have been booked for a trip to Singapore-Japan at around $12,000 daily. In the South Atlantic markets seemed uninspiring. A 2011 built 57,400 dwt ship was reportedly fixed for a trip from east coast South America to the east Mediterranean at around $9,500 daily. There was also a report that a nice 2014 built 61,400 dwt ‘Ultramax’ was booked giving Recalada delivery for a trip via Aqaba with redelivery Port Said at $12,500 daily.
Handysizes in the US Gulf face hard times as rates continue at a low ebb. A 32,000 tonner was reported to have fixed a nickel ore trip from east coast Central America to the Mediterranean in the high $6,000s. The Mediterranean is also in poor shape, with owners ballasting away and fixing from the Continent. A 37,000 tonner, ballasting from Italy, fixed a trip passing Finisterre to load scrap from the Continent to Turkey at $8,000 daily. A similar size, also ballasting up, secured $11,000 daily for a shorter trip with slabs from the Continent to the Adriatic.
In the East there were signs that conditions were improving slightly in the North Pacific area with reports of a 2012 built 56,500 dwt ‘Dolphin’ type being fixed aps NoPac for a trip to south-east Asia at a better $7,500 daily plus a $200,000 ballast bonus. The south-east Asia markets remained quiet however. A 2007 built 58,700 dwt ‘Tess 58’ type open Cebu was said to have been fixed for a nickel ore run to China at about $8,000 daily. In the handysize sector, a 36,000 dwt built last year, open south Japan, secured $7,000 daily for a Nopac round, a level which compares very favourably with supramax types.
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