Rates found some support in the east as the week closed out, with the busy West Australia/China route pushing towards US$8.00 after dropping to the mid US$7.00s mid-week. The miners and other operators were vying for tonnage but the coming week will be the tester. There was talk of a 2010-built 180,000-tonner open Japan fixing a round voyage with South Korea redelivery at a stronger US$20,750 daily. There were said once again, to be several ships in ballast towards Brazil, with trading there largely slow for most of the week. A 20-30 December 170,000-tonne 10% cargo fixed from Tubarao to Qingdao at US$17.75, while a 1-10 December cargo allegedly went in the mid US$17.00s but likely with a reduced commission. Further north, rates eased a touch, but a fuel economical 180,000-tonner open 23-25 November Rotterdam achieved US$34,000 daily for a trip via the US east coast to South Korea. Transatlantic rates came under pressure, slipping to the low US$20,000s daily but with some resistance evident as the week closed out. The list of ships open in the north is usually remained and with just a few more cargoes quickly impacting on rates. Period trading has been slow, but mid-week, a 176,000-tonner fixed in direct continuation for delivery in the first quarter 2018 at US$14,500 daily, for 11 to 13 months trading.
The Panamax index fell all week, however, as the weekend approached, the bottom seemed to be in sight as the rate decline slowed and owners have begun to hold, or increase their rate ideas. At the beginning of the week, the Asia/Pacific market seemed to be in denial, with brokers claiming each lower fixture done was not a true reflection of the market, but as the week progressed the rates continued to fall. A 2008-built Panamax fixed at US$8,100 daily for a NoPac round voyage, and a 2012-built Kamsarmax fixed at US$9,000 daily, both delivery CJK, representing a drop of about US$1,000 daily from the fixtures at the end of last week. Despite the softening rates, period activity returned as some charterers seized an opportunity to take advantage of the spot market weakness.
There has been more mineral activity in the Atlantic this week, but it has not been supported by any significant grain volume from the US Gulf or east coast South America. Rates have drifted lower, as owners generally looked to stay within the Atlantic at reduced levels, rather than fix to the east.
The week began with routes across the board in negative territory but by the end of the week, areas in the Atlantic especially from the US Gulf looked steadier as more cargoes appeared. A 53,000-dwt was fixed from the US Gulf to West Africa with coal at US$18,750 daily. From the Continent, a 63,200-dwt was covered for a trip from Antwerp to Camden-Vera Cruz with steels at US$8,500 daily. Activity remained sparse from east coast South America but a 56,800-dwt was reported fixed delivery Recalada for a trip via east Africa, redelivery Durban at US$16,500 daily.
The Asian market remained under pressure, with a build-up of tonnage and lack of fresh enquiry at the beginning of the week. A 53,000-dwt was fixed delivery Shanghai trip to south-east Asia at US$5,950 daily and a 50,300-dwt open CJK agreed delivery Muara Pantai to south China in the mid US$9,000s. From Japan, a 66,600-tonner fixed for a NoPac round redelivery Japan at US$9,500 daily. Further south, a 57,000-dwt was booked delivery Singapore trip via Indonesia redelivery west India at US$9,000 daily or US$8,500 redelivery east India.
On the period front, little was reported but a 58,100-dwt was fixed delivery CJK for four to six months trading redelivery worldwide at US$9,900 daily.
Overall the handy sector remained weak throughout the week. Brokers suggested a turning point possibly for tonnage in the US Gulf and east coast South America. The Pacific area continued to trade sideways.
A couple of grain fixtures were reported this week from the Back Sea to the Mediterranean. A 35,000-dwt 2015-built delivery Egyptian Mediterranean was booked for a grain trip via the Black Sea to Morocco at US$9,750 daily with about 20 days duration, and a 37,000-dwt and a 28,000-dwt were both fixed for a similar run to the east Mediterranean at US$10,500 and US$10,000 daily respectively. A 33,000-dwt 2013-built delivery Szcecin with prompt date was fixed for a trip to Italy at a rate in the mid US$11,000. In the east, a coal run from Indonesia to China was paid US$8,000 daily on a 34,000-dwt 2010-built delivery south China. A 36,000-dwt 2012-built was relet for a tapioca trip to China at $9,300 daily delivery Kohsichang.
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