A drifting market with holidays culminating in Chinese New Year celebrations significantly reducing activity. A couple of days of inertia swiftly prompted jitters and owners/operators with prompt ships dropped rates although as the week closed out rates were a touch steadier, particularly in the east. Several cents were shaved off the West Australia/China route but rates found a level around US$6.40/US$6.50. Timecharter trading was slow, there were vague and unconfirmed reports that US$12,000 daily had been done for a round voyage but a 175,000-tonner built 2012 fixed earlier in the week from Liuheng for Port Hedland/China at US$14,000 daily. Brazil/China rates were still in the US$16.00 range with rates for first half March in the low US$16.00s and towards the upper end going forward. Further north, the list of cargoes both transatlantic and front haul shrunk and charterers picked off the needier ships. The BCI C7 route Puerto Bolivar/Rotterdam saw rates falling sharply to the low US$8.00s and timecharter rates nearer to US$11,000 rather than US$12,000 daily. Front haul activity was limited with rates hovering around the low US$20,000s daily for ships delivering northwest Europe for the run east. A modern 179,000-tonner allegedly fixed from Gibraltar for a trip to the east at significantly under US$25,000 daily earlier in the week. Paper values held steady going forward but fresh period activity was limited although Koch Shipping relet the Great Jin 175,868-dwt 2010-built to NYK for Tobata delivery prompt for five to seven months at 103% of the BCI 5-timecharter daily average. Koch Shipping fixed the ship over a week ago for about a year at US$18,750 daily.
Despite the Lunar New Year holidays there was renewed optimism that the market had reached the bottom, and the next move will be up once the dust settles and a full return to work. Period trades continued with a modern kamsarmax fixed for one-year delivery India at a steady US$13,250, with further short period trades concluded as the paper market improved and market confidence returned. In the Atlantic, there was a flurry of fixing from east coast South America, mostly for March dates, with some of the earlier vessels arriving in February forced to wait for later cargoes. Kamsarmaxes repeatedly fixed at US$14,500 plus US$450,000 ballast bonus for early March dates for trips to the east. There were also several transatlantic trades finalised but in the north the market was more subdued with the limited mineral enquiry mainly from the Baltic. The Pacific continued to see tonnage discount for repositioning business, but with a more balanced tonnage/cargo ratio combined with paper levels improving and more activity from east coast South America, overall owners seemed more confident.
Overall, it was a quiet week in both basins with many Pacific participants leaving their desks early for the Chinese New Year celebration. Rates for fronthaul were under pressure from the US Gulf and brokers reported a tick more orders circulated in the area. The route from the US Gulf to the Far East climbed most of the week but indices on other supramax routes remained weak. On the period front, a 53,000-dwt 2008-built open in the Philippines was booked for five to seven months at US$11,400 daily with worldwide redelivery.
From east coast South America, a larger-sized ultramax type was booked via east to South Africa at US$14,000 daily plus a ballast bonus of USUS$130,000. In the east for trips loading via Indonesia, an ultramax was paid US$9,000 daily basis Hong Kong delivery to India and USUS$11,750 daily basis Indonesia to Pakistan. Supramax type to China was reportedly fixed at US$7,300 daily from Chittgaong and US$9,200 daily from Singapore opening. In the Indian Ocean, a 57,000-dwt was agreed at US$12,750 daily for a trip to east coast India, and a 55,000-dwt open South Africa was fixed to Singapore-Japan range at US$12,300 daily plus US$230,000 ballast bonus.
Rates slipped in the Atlantic from the start of the week but some brokers saw signs that the US Gulf market might slightly improve with tonnage tight for February dates towards the weekend. Fresh activity was awaited to set a new benchmark but more handy-sized cargoes were needed for ships in the area. A smaller-sized handy open west Africa was reportedly fixed for a trip with logs via west Africa to the Far East at US$11,500 daily. A 32,000-dwt open Paranagua was booked for US east coast redelivery at US$13,000 daily. A voyage fixture from east coast South America was reported for 40,000-tonnes 10% beans from Upriver to one safe port in the Egyptian Mediterranean at US$30.50 with 8,000 tonnes load and 7,000 tonnes discharge in March dates. A short week in the east and little reported ahead of the year of the dog.
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