Handy Bulk Market Overview (29 Sep 2023)

bulk carrierThere has been increased talk of a weaker feel and owners’ willingness to compromise, which does not stop the market to become an intense battle ground for tonnage in the medium and long term future. The technical challenge to meet the decarbonisation standards is one problem, but the costs involved to meet these new standards could force many owners out of business. Thus, the owning landscape could be up for a profound change. As a consequence, as outlined earlier this week, decarbonisation might lead to a temporary lack of tonnage and, as a consequence, could severely hamper global trade. At any rate, the spot market remains in good health, despite a weaker sentiment. Off the Continent, a 28,000 dwt vessel got fixed at US$ 13,500 daily for a trip to the eastern Med. Handysize freights for trips to West Africa are hovering at around US$ 18-20,000 daily.

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Azov Coaster Rates Surge on Delays (20 Sep 2023)

Freights from the Sea of Azov have rocketed by as much as US$ 8/mt week-on-week due to extreme unavailability of tonnage and the associated delays in passing the Kerch Strait. Current delays are said to be averaging 8-15 days with little immediate relief in sight. Rising opex (spurred by rising bunker prices) are giving owners one more reason to hike their rate ideas from last-done going into the last quarter of the year. With Yeisk delivery to Marmara, standard grain cargoes are fetching high US$ 60s/mt of up to US$ 69/mt while Rostov delivery with the same redel is said to be trading beyond US$ 70/mt with some reports of even US$ 73-74/mt done. Danube freights remain volatile with Reni/Marmara grains in the range of US$ 40-45/mt, depending on terms. For news and trends in the European short sea markets every week, subscribe to the BMTI Short Sea Report.

Bulker Market Overview (5 Sep 2023)

capesize routeAfter ending last week on a bit of a down note, Capesizes start the new week with something of a surprising return to positivity with stabilizing trends in the Atlantic and continued buoyancy in the Pacific. Pacific round voyage rates have been especi­ally bullish of late with owners who had taken US$ 11,000s last week already heard to be asking char­terers for US$ 12,000s on mid-September dates. Panamaxes have turned into a split market with geo­graphically eastern rates out-performing their west­ern counterparts. Trans-Atlantic RVs are falling by some US$ 300-400 day-on-day (into the low US$ 22,000s) while Pacific RVs are increasing by around the same amount on a daily basis to trade in the middle US$ 11,000s. Southeast Asia is thriving as well with Indo rounds moving above US$ 10,000. Supramax rates are climbing across the board thanks to a convergence of global chokepoints that are mak­ing available tonnage slightly harder to hire in both hemispheres. In the East, a 58,000 dwt vessel has secured a rate of about US$ 17,000 daily going from Madagascar to China. Short period time charters are getting concluded at upwards of US$ 15,000 daily on Handymax tonnage open in the PG-WCI area.

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Far East Handy Bulk Review (14 Aug 2023)

Freights were generally improved over the past week among the Far East Supramaxes, holidays in Singa­pore and spotty activity notwithstanding, as average rates seem to have picked up around US$ 300-500 week-on-week (basis NoPac RV with tonnage of 58,000 dwt). Indeed, the inter-Pacific round voyage freights rose steadily from the middle US$ 6,000s to nearly US$ 7,000 daily over the course of the week with Indo rounds closing above US$ 8,500 daily. Handysize rates were reported as extremely buoyant on the northbound run with delivery Southeast Asia to NoPac rising by almost US$ 750 week-on-week (basis 38-42,000 dwt) to exceed the US$ 8,000 line.

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Downgrades in Baltic coaster rates accelerate (21 Jul 2023)

The fall in spot freights has, by all signs, accelerated over the course of July with owners no longer able to depend on securing last-done levels save the very rarest of special agreements. The seasonal culprits of holiday-driven demand drift and a wider slowing in manufacturing operations that fuel that demand are both gaining force to combine into a bearish vortex that are putting charterers in the driver’s seat and owners on the sidelines. While week-on-week dis­counts have yet to exceed EUR 0.5/mt on any observed trade route, this is still an expanding aver­age differential when compared to the EUR 0.25/mt limit seen until just a few weeks ago. Westward-bound freights from the Baltic States to ARAG have fallen into the EUR 21-23/mt range after trading in the EUR 22-24/mt range at the end of June and as much as EUR 25-28/mt in the first quarter of the year.

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Bulker Market Overview (04 Jul 2023)

bulker 000Even with the ECSA still providing just enough cargo demand to keep Brazil/China voyages hover­ing at US$ 20.8/mt, Capesize freights are looking at an increasingly thin upside with charterers and owners coming to something of an impasse. Pacific round voyages are also holding to circa US$ 8.2/mt, but owners are struggling to push those levels any higher for mid-July positions. Pac round time char­ters are under pressure in the US$ 13,000s range.

Atlantic Panamaxes are at something of an equilibri­um with charterers unable to push rates for TARVs any lower than US$ 6,500 while owners are hoping to keep them above US$ 7,000 daily at the same time. South America remains the great hope to turn things around and despite continued strength from the ECSA export market, the rest of the Atlantic is far less inspiring. New front haul business is also seen stabilizing with Kamsarmaxes said to be securing upwards of US$ 15,000 daily plus US$ 500,000 BB.

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Far East Handy Bulk Review (28 Jun 2023)

cement bulkerChinese holidays are probably the biggest story in the eastern Supramax trades, although they don’t seem to have subdued rates as much as they have activity with standard NoPac rounds on 58,000 dwt ships having remained largely unchanged over the past week in the US$ 7,000s. Ultramaxes are heard to be securing over US$ 8,000 on inter-Pac rounds from Singapore-Japan into SE Asia as avails tighten. Handysize activity has notably fallen off in recent days even as spot freight levels have come under the kinds of discounts that are not normally assumed to hit the small size sector with northbound rates ex-SE Asia to NoPac losing US$ 300-400 week-on-week.

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BMTI Dry Bulk Commodity News (31 May 2023)

wheatThe condition of the French soft wheat crop is its best in over a decade, says national agricultural agen­cy FranceAgriMer. The agency says about 93% of the crop is in “good or excellent” condition compared to just 69% measured at this time last year and also the highest level since measurements began in 2011.

Prices for thermal coal worldwide have been sta­bilizing at around US$ 200/mt or less than half of last year’s record of circa US$ 440/mt reached in Q3 of 2022 (basis Newcastle). Observers note that pre­sent spot market prices are nonetheless more than twice the ten-year average for seaborne thermal coal before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (US$ 86/mt).

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Dry Bulk Market Overview (23 May 2023)

Owners of Capesize tonnage continue to insist that enquiry is high and charterers are putting in new orders despite the fact that average rates continue to slide across the board. Whether the corrections will persist into the week ahead remains to be seen, but a stronger wave of demand would be needed to soak up the plentiful avails that are awash in both hemi­spheres, presenting challenges to owners who were hoping to lock in some last-minute business before the summer months start to bring a lull in earnest.

Lo and behold, it would appear that Panamax trends are starting to stabilize on the day-to-day spot market. Or at least the beginning of the week saw daily declines slow to a trickle in both hemispheres as TARVs steadied in the US$ 9,000s and front haul trips seemed to have lost the desire to drift below US$ 19,000 daily. There are even a few rumours of new demand in Southeast Asia, pushing rates into modest positivity based on early June positions. Indo rounds on Kamsarmaxes are in the US$ 8,000s.

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North Sea Activity Slows as European Holidays Kick In (10 May 2023)

Holidays here and holidays there (not to mention the odd historic coronation in between) are putting the brakes on business activity to a notable degree across the North Sea and, to a less extent, the Baltic market as well. Coaster trades are nonetheless more stable than one might expect them to be at this juncture with week-on-week losses looking rather minimal. On the other hand, compared to this time a year ago, rate levels have declined rather steadily and unrelentingly in the past 12 months with inter-Bal­tic westward freights now in the low EUR 20s/mt (basis general cargoes of 5,000mt) whereas the same business was fetching mid-high EUR 30s/mt in May of 2022. Admittedly, this was at extraordinarily high levels compared to the historical average, benefiting from the remainder of positive market vibes from the mighty upsurge of 2021. But this year’s nominal return to normality has not been as brutal as many predicted it might be. Baltic-based short sea owners are still making profits from their agreements even if earnings are nothing like they were 1-2 years ago. Northbound freights from the GNS are fetching mid-EUR 20s/mt of up to EUR 25/mt based on Irish Sea redelivery even as they began the year trading in the EUR 30s/mt. Southbound freights fixed from the UK North Sea to the Sea of Marmara are no longer fetching EUR 50s/mt as they did a month ago, but 3,000mt generals can still get high EUR 40s/mt.

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Far East Handy Bulk Review (25 Apr 2023)

The Pacific Supramax freights have remained largely buoyant over the past week with average rates for NoPac rounds gaining some US$ 750-1,000 week-on-week to settle at rates of around US$ 10,500 with reports of as much as US$ 11,000 in negoti­ations in tonnage of 58,000 dwt. Indeed, backhaul rates have already been reported at this level on Ultramaxes ex-ECI back to the Continent. Indonesia rounds are also climbing back quickly compared to weeks past with upwards of US$ 14,500 daily not available on tonnage of 58,000 dwt (ex-WCI) and as much as US$ 16,000 on tonnage of 62,000 dwt. Unlike the larger Supras and Ultras, eastern Han­dysize rates have not increased noticeably over the past week, although they have not decreased either. This stability is what owners have come to expect and last few days have born that out. N.China deli­very of 38-42,000 dwt tonnage to CJK or S.Korea is about as likely to secure about US$ 10,250 daily as it was a week earlier. Steel cargoes are being shipped on tonnage of 42,000 dwt ex-S.China to the UKC-Med at up to US$ 13,000, brokers say. Trips from the Singapore-Japan area to Southeast Asia on stan­dard Handy tonnage are fetching mid US$ 9,000s.

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Handy Bulk Market Overview (13 Apr 2023)

bulk carrierOff the Continent, an Ultramax was taken for a trip to the East at US$ 20,000 daily, and at US$ 15,500 daily for a trip tip to West Africa on Supra tonnage. Ultra scrap TC rates are hovering around US$ 13,500-14,000 daily. The Black Sea looks stable with 30,000mt booked from Romania to the East Med at TCE of US$ 13,500 daily. Rates are still sounding okay from the Med where clinker charterers took an Ultra at US$ 18,000 daily to West Africa. Grain charterers are linked with a 30,000mt cargo from Romania to the Adriatic at a TCE of 13,500 daily. A 36,000 dwt is rumoured as done at US$ 11,000 daily for 5-7 months of trading. From West Africa, Ultra owners were rating a trip via South Africa to the East at US$ 18,000 daily. A Handy of 33,000 dwt was ballasted to Santos to get fixed at US$ 14,000 daily for a trip to Morocco, which isn’t really exciting.

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Dry Bulk Market Overview (31 Mar 2023)

cement bulker kosThe Capesize market is showing more activity on the iron ore routes with some stabilized freight rates in the high US$ 7s/mt for mid-April loading out of Western Australia into China. The trans-Pacific rounds are firming with rates talked in the low/mid US$ 13,000s daily. In the Atlantic some demand from West Africa is supporting freight rates, but from Brazil business remains low with freight rates in the mid-high US$ 20s/mt. Front hauls hover in the range of US$ 29,000 per day. The firming trend for the Panamax rates continues with gains in the three-digital range day-on-day realized on nearly every major route and interesting opportunities seen in both hemispheres. Increasing demand for period chartering in the Pacific is evident with middle-aged vessels open in Southern China for short-period trading rumoured in the range of US$ 14-15,000 daily for delivery beginning April. The Indonesian round seems to be the only exception with the spot rates having difficulty clinging to last-done levels. The downward trend for Handy bulk rates is unbroken with declines of more than US$ 1,000 per day seen on the Indonesian round for Supra tonnage. Fresh activity is not very abundant and the Pacific basin is generally losing more steam than the Atlantic. An older 56,000 dwt failed at US$ 12,500 daily for a trip via Indonesia with destination South Korea and delivery Southern China. An Ultramax is being talked about on subs for about US$ 19,000 daily for an iron ore trip from Guatemala via WCSA to China. Demand for Handysize shipments in the East Med and Black Sea seems to be positive, which is supporting rates in the region and is even driving firming trends along the trans-Atlantic routes. For exclusive news and updates about dry bulk shipbroking, subscribe to the BMTI Daily Report.

Panamax freights in limbo (21 Mar 2023)

Defying the pessimists, Capesize markets seem to have a bit of energy left to spare with a new round of activity in the eastern basin helping push the Pacific RV back into positive territory and into the US$ 19,000s once again. Whether rates will stay buoyant on this route and, perhaps more importantly, start to inspire other bullish bounces around the market, remains very much to be seen. But Capesize owners are happy to see that a true correction in spot market freight trends is far from a foregone conclusion.

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Rate Hike Slows in Smaller Bulkers (07 Mar 2023)

bulk carrierThe Capesizes do not appear to be running out of steam any time soon with the week kicking off with strong improvements nearly across the board as trans-Atlantic RVs near the US$ 11,000s and front hauls trips seem bound to reach US$ 25,000 daily by mid-week. Pacific-based round voyage business is also quite bullish at the moment with owners securing upwards of US$ 13,000 daily on standard RV basis (despite charterers’ efforts to lock in US$ 11-12,000) or about double the rates of two weeks ago.

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Open tonnage widens for Baltic coasters (11 Jan 2023)

The holidays don’t seem to have ended just yet for the northern European trades, at least in terms of business activity, with cargo demand being assessed as sluggish across the board and open tonnage start­ing to pile up along nearly every standard route. This has provided some advantageous rate levels for the charterers who have waded into the market in the early days of 2023 with inter-Baltic rates in the westward direction having lost as much as EUR 2/ mt from their levels of mid-December as general cargoes of 5,000mt are able to secure EUR 24-25/mt from Klaipeda to ARAG whereas the same would not have fallen under EUR 26/mt in the ‘normal’ days of Q4-2022, shipbrokers assert. Ice class re­quirements and stable bunker prices are shoring up freights to some degree, but the lack of steady business, on the whole, is giving charterers plenty of tonnage options to pick and choose from. Brokers doubt this very quiet market climate will continue for much longer, but those opportunistic few that have cargo to move are taking advantage of the situ­ation. Northbound trips from Spanish Med to ECUK are fetching high EUR 30s/mt at upwards of EUR 38/mt on 3-4,000mt agri-prod cargoes while the opposite direction is giving closer to EUR 35/mt.

To get exclusive news and trend analysis on the European short sea markets on a weekly basis, subscribe to the BMTI Short Sea Report.

Handy Bulk off to slow start in 2023 (03 Jan 2023)

cement bulker kosThe first working day of the new year was more an extension of the Christmas-New Year break. With London, plus a few other places off, there is hardly anything worth reporting. But one thing can be taken for granted and that is that charterers will keep endeavouring to push rates down further to test the owners’ limits. And, now, seeing charterers rating a 37,000 dwt vessel at US$ 8,000 daily for a trip from Finland into the East Med is right in line with the prevailing bearish sentiment. For the first quarter of 2023, Handysize tonnage will be unlikely to do any better than around this level for trips to the Med, ECSA and US Gulf…for West Africa maybe US$ 11-12,000 daily would be possible. Handysize rates for trading across the East have been falling apace with charterers seen rating a 32,000 dwt for a trip from China to Indonesia at US$ 5,500 daily. Australian rounds are being closely traded at around US$ 7,500 daily with delivery South India, at which a similar level was also agreed on a 30,000 dwt vessel for a 15-day employment in Southeast Asia. Back haul charterers want the rate for a 32,000 dwt to be down below US$ 7,000 daily for a trip to the Continent. Amongst this unpleasant news, the freight rate of US$ 9,500 daily on a 32,000 dwt for a trip from PG via South Africa to WC India is a welcome highlight.

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Recovery in Atlantic Panamax rates (15 Dec 2022)

It seems far too early to call the Capesizes over with their week-starting slump looking increasingly like a temporary bump on a steadily rising pathway. Levels on long haul rates have jumped into action in East and West alike with only the Pacific RVs taking longer to catch up, still falling by US$ 500 day-on-day, but looking more likely to bounce back before the week is through. Otherwise, rates like the front haul and trans-Atlantic RV are gaining some US$ 2,000 day-on-day with the former reaching US$ 32,000 and the latter easily exceeding US$ 20,000 daily as owners seek to fix US$ 21,000 and higher.

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Pacific Supramax rates climb back above opex (28 Nov 2022)

bulk carrierFar East Supramaxes launched a recovery of sorts in the final days of the week, leaving NoPac rounds as much as US$ 1,500 higher than they started the week and average rates (basis N.China delivery) in the middle US$ 8,000s daily range versus the middle US$ 7,000s range they were trading in just a week before. With owners still pushing to get rates above OPEX (operating costs) as soon as possible, charterers are putting up less resistance to any offers of upgraded rates. Indo rounds have been heard to be securing as much as US$ 12,000. Far East Handysize freights have been stable of late (unlike their Atlantic counterparts) with the south­bound rates to Southeast Asia still circa US$ 10,500. For exclusive news and updates about dry bulk shipbroking, subscribe to the BMTI Daily Report.

BMTI Dry Bulk Update (24 Nov 2022)

cement bulker kosAs predicted by BMTI at midweek, Capesize rates have, in fact, bounced back quite convincingly with a strong uptick in long haul rate levels in the Atlantic in particular. Trans-Atlantic RVs jump by as much as US$ 3,000 day-on-day to hit the mid-high teens of US$ 16-17,000 daily with talk of US$ 18-19,000 daily already being bandied about for the weekend. ECSA/UKC voyage freights are also up by nearly US$ 1/mt day-on-day with upwards of US$ 11.5/ mt now available on modern 180,000 dwt tonnage.

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BMTI Dry Bulk Market Update (24 Oct 2022)

Fortunes have faded to a degree for the Capesize owners in the final days of October as the days get shorter and cargo demand gets a bit thinner on the ground. Certain brokers are predicting another surge of Atlantic demand in the coming days and there is reason to expect something similar in the Pacific, but for the moment the spot market is trending back toward charterer interests as avails start expanding. Brazil/UKC voyages are steady at US$ 12.3/mt.

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BMTI Investment Review (5 Oct 2022)

Winning Shipping made several moves this month as part of an ongoing fleet renewal including buying the 10-year-old, 180,000 dwt “Frontier Triumph” while selling both a post-Panamax and 21-year-old Capesize for scrap. The purchase and demolitions bring the Singapore-based owner’s fleet to 39 ships. Hamish Norton, president of bulker operator Star Bulk, said his company has “no plans” to order any new bulk carriers as long as the imple­mentation of new environmental regulations such as the IMO’s upcoming EEXI and CII indices remains uncertain. Such orders, says Norton, may end up be­ing “stranded assets” by 2030 as the ESG landscape will likely be quite different in a decade from now. Nasdaq-listed bulker companies had a bearish week with nearly every stock down. Eagle Bulk [EGLE] fell 9% to US$40.4, Golden Ocean [GOGL] lost 16% to US$ 7.3 and Diana [DSX] slid 22% to US$ 3.6. For exclusive news and updates about dry bulk shipbroking, subscribe to the BMTI Daily Report.

BMTI Dry Bulk Market Update (29 Sep 2022)

cement bulker kosAs they sometimes do, Capesize rates are splitting into hemispheres with Pacific rates under pressure (possibly ahead of next week’s Golden Week) and Atlantic rates largely buoyant. Western buoyancy is being led by front haul demand with consecutive daily upgrades of around US$ 1,000 lifting rates (ex-UKC) from the middle US$ 30,000s to the high US$ 30,000s in just a few short days. Some shipowners already claim to be seeing rate offers for US$ 40,000 daily on modern tonnage based on US Gulf delivery.

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BMTI Dry Bulk Commodity News (13 Sep 2022)

World food prices marginally declined for the fifth month in a row in August, based on the World Food Price Index created by the UN’s Food & Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Consumers have welcomed the easing in price inflation following the massive surge that happened immediately after the onset of war in Ukraine. Despite the decline, the UN hastened to add that food prices remain at historically high levels and that index values in the 140-160 range are still around 50% higher than the five-year-average when the index was consistently steady in the 90-100 range before the arrival of the Coronavirus pandemic in 2020. Average wheat prices, for example, are still some 10% higher than they were this time last year. The FAO also lowered its 2022 grain output forecast by 1.4%, citing heat waves in the EU among other global production limitations.

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Dry Bulk Market Overview (24 Aug 2022)

cement bulker kosHaving fallen to their lowest level since February, Capesize rates were in the doldrums until the start of this week when a recovery in sentiment saw most levels starting to bounce back by midweek. The rally is most pronounced in the Pacific, where RV rates have swiftly climbed from the US$ 6,000s into the US$ 8-9,000s in just 48 hours. The reduction in congestion levels in the month of August has had a positive impact on returning charterers to the spot market, which shipowners hope will stay a virtuous cycle going into the end of the month. Brokers report that BHP has suddenly found themselves fac­ing a challenge in finding or fixing any ships ETA Port Hedland as few owners have been willing to agree to index rates, a bullish indication to be sure.

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BMTI Investment Review (1 Aug 2022)

Navios Maritime Partners bought 36 bulk carriers from its parent company Navios Maritime Holdings for US$ 835m, bundled along with US$ 441.6m in debt from bank liabilities and leasing obligations.

Dry bulk operator, Pacific Basin, says it generated a greatly improved profit in the first half of 2022 at US$ 465.1m. This was a considerable gain from the US$ 160.1m of profit it saw in H1-2021 and the company’s best profit so far. The Hong Kong-based company, controlling a fleet of 240 bulkers, says net daily TCE earnings for Handysizes and Supramaxes rose 83% and 85% year-on-year to US$ 26,370 and US$ 33,840 over the first six months of the year.

Bullish trends remained in place on Wall Street as bulker shares rose across the board. Diana Shipping [DSX] and Safe Bulkers [SB] increased 9.3% and 7.8% week-on-week to US$ 5.6 and US$ 3.9 per share.

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BMTI Dry Bulk Commodity Update (15 Jul 2022)

wheatAverage commodities prices have eased in recent weeks after peaking in June, according to the Bloom­berg Commodity Spot Index, which tracks 23 fu­tures for energy, metal and crop commodities. The index has fallen by 20% since hitting an all-time record level in June. Prices for agri-prods including wheat and other grain crops have started to ease under worries that a stagnating world economy will start to hurt demand going forward in 2022. With the ongoing restrictions stemming from the war in Ukraine and ever-present inflationary forces likely to remain in play this year, nonetheless, the momen­tary decline was called a relief, however temporary, for consumers and end users of raw materials.

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BMTI Investment Review (13 June 2022)

The small-sized bulkers are emerging as champions among all size classes for bulk carriers with recent estimates by Allied showing that average S&P prices for Supramaxes and Handysizes have increased by 104% and 101%, respectively, since the beginning of 2021. Sales prices for Capes and Panamaxes rose by 74% and 64% over the same time period. Likewise, freight earnings for Supras and Handies since the start of 2022 have outperformed those of the larger Panamaxes and Capesizes.

NYSE-listed dry bulk operator Safe Bulkers [SB] has been selected by Seeking Alpha as a “top pick” for investors considering that it trades at a “significant discount” to its other dry bulk peers while also being considered the most discounted bulker pure-play by a wide margin.

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BMTI’s Handy Bulk Market Insight (17 May 2022)

Off the Continent, the owners of a 38,000 dwt vessel have been testing charterers at a rate of US$ 29,000 daily for a trip via the Baltic Sea to the eastern Mediterranean, which ended up failing to attract charterers who were talking US$ 24,500. From the Black Sea area, loading in some Russian ports is now laden with an additional EWRI cost of around US$ 80,000 daily on top of the already much higher premium rates, owners are holding out for. Grain charterers continue quoting two cargoes from Romania to Tunisia, for which they aim at US$ 34-35/mt. A 30,000 dwt vessel is said to have been fixed at US$ 25,000 daily for a trip to the US Gulf.

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