The perfect storm for the big ships: with holidays, force majeure in two ore exporting ports and bad weather undermining the market. A lack of significant activity from Brazil left the market one-sided, with owners/operators reluctant to ballast from the East, they instead chased the shorter rounds. Rates tumbled on the West Australia/China run, coming very close to dipping below $5.00. However, with voyage and timecharter rates so low, some owners stood back, with an uptick in paper values prompting resistance as the week closed out. There was talk of a C5 West Australia/China run for 25 April onwards booked at $5.30. Timecharter rates were still paying a premium to voyage, but dropped to four figures, with talk of under $8,000 daily close to fixing for an Australian round. Ships heading for Brazil saw rates fall sharply, with the Tubarao/China rate barely in the mid $12.00s.
A potential 90-day closure at Acu, Brazil, saw several ships freed up and competing for prompt cargoes. North Atlantic trading was extremely slow, and as the week closed out, a well-described 180,000-tonner fixed from Sines for a trip via Ponta Da Madeira to Turkey, at $7,500 daily basis, redelivery Cape Passero. Front haul trading was slow, but Oldendorff secured a 12-year old 180,000-tonner spot Falmouth, for a run East with various loading options, at $17,500 daily. Period rates have eased, but charterers continued to have an appetite for tonnage, albeit at lower levels.
The week was disrupted due to the various holidays. Falling paper values meant period fixing dried up, but brokers suggested that charterers were still keen to take forward cover, although at discounted levels. The spot market in the Atlantic saw a significant correction this week, with early tonnage forced to chase the bids down to find cover, after a buildup of tonnage on the Continent. East coast South America remained busy, but again rates eased with modern Kamsarmaxes fixing at around $15,500 plus $550,000 ballast bonus compared to around $16,500 plus $650,000 ballast bonus the previous week.
The Pacific was hit even harder, with a lack of mineral cargoes blamed for falling rates, and the prevailing uncertainty deterring some owners from ballasting. A week ago, a modern Kamsarmax fixed, and failed, at $14,000 for a NoPac round voyage, and then re-fixed a few days later at $12,000 for the same route with rates taking further hits. Although a quiet end to the week, there was a consensus that the market was bottoming out, and an injection of fresh enquiry could see fortunes reversed.
Due to the combination of holidays, both at the beginning and end of the week, together with some concern over possible trade wars, the market saw softer tendencies. Details of older period fixtures emerged, with a 57,000-dwt fixed basis delivery Zhoushan, for about five to seven months worldwide, trading at $12,500.
In the Atlantic, rates agreed were lower, but from East coast South America a 60,000-dwt was rumoured fixed basis delivery Recalada for a trip to China, in the upper $15,000s plus $575,000 ballast bonus. A 55,000-dwt was linked to a trip delivery where, when ready River Plate redelivery East Mediterranean, at around $18,000. Activity from the Mediterranean included a 53,000-dwt booked, delivery Constanza for a trip redelivery West Africa, at $11,550. Downward pressure remained in the US Gulf, with brokers reporting a buildup of tonnage. A 53,000-dwt was fixed in the high $13,000s, basis delivery Santa Marta trip to the UK, in the high $13,000s.
Asia did see similar activity levels to last week, but as the week progressed holiday fever took over. Nickel ore movements remained, with a 61,400-dwt fixed delivery CJK via Indonesia to China at around $13,000 to $14,000ss. A 56,000-dwt was reported fixed delivery Prai via Indonesia redelivery South East Asia, at $12,250. On the backhaul runs, an Ultra was rumoured fixed at $5,750 for the first 65 days, and thereafter, mid $13,000s, for a trip to the US Gulf. Little activity was reported from the Indian Ocean this week.
A shorter working week in both the Atlantic and Pacific, as holidays in China from Thursday onwards slowed activity, especially in the Pacific. Rates from the US Gulf started to ease, while some larger-sized handy vessels were reportedly competing with Supramax stems in East coast South America. On the period front, a 45,000-dwt open Vietnam was booked for five to seven months at $11,500 daily redelivery worldwide. In the Atlantic, a 35,000-dwt was fixed to ARA-Ghent range at $10,400 daily, basis delivery in the Black Sea. A 28,000-dwt was booked with the same delivery for moving sulphur to Morocco at $10,000 daily. From East coast South America, brokers awaited the next fixture for a new benchmark to be set. In the East, a 37,000-dwt was reported to have fixed to move grain via NoPac, at $10,500 daily basis, delivery CJK.
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