Bulker Freight Market Update (10 Sep 2020)

As the last Australian reporters leave China, diplo­matic tensions continue to rise between Canberra and Beijing. Whether China is ready to put tariffs on Australian iron ore imports remains unlikely, while still not as remote an idea as previously thought. The continued firmness of the iron ore price suggests the political reality is being factored in with no easy resolution in sight. For the Capesizes, it has been a quiet, nervous start to the week. In the Pacific, fix­tures on the West Australia to Qingdao run continue to slip and rates are now rumoured to have been concluded at below US$ 7/mt for end-September laycan. There is also a lack of activity on the Atlantic trans-Atlantic markets and front haul bids for Tu­barao/Qingdao voyages are heard to be down to around the US$ 16/mt mark with plenty of ballast­ers remaining unfixed. The outlook is negative.

The Panamax market continues to weaken, particu­larly in the Atlantic. Here low Baltic mineral activity has undermined the vessels open on the North Continent with the few bids being realised at ever lower levels Owners have been reluctant to chase these down but reality is biting the early ships. A 77,000 dwt (2014) has fixed Vysotsk/Italy at US$ 10.25/mt basis 12k/25k shinc bends for prompt dates. Lack of Atlantic alternatives is forcing more owners to consider front haul possibilities, but there is a lack of US Gulf activity and ECSA has seen front haul levels fixing at easier levels; a modern 81,000 dwt fixed delivery Argentina 25-30 September at US$ 16,000 daily plus US$ 600,000 BB. More Oc­tober stems are now appearing out of the ECSA, giving some support to owners in Southeast Asia. An 83,000 dwt (2012) was rumoured as fixed on subs retro Myanmar early September for an ECSA round at US$ 14,400 daily. Otherwise, in the Pacific there has been some activity although the tonnage count is relatively high but rates seem to be holding more or less for the time being. A 93,500 dwt post-Panamax sailed from N.China southward and ended up fixing delivery passing Manila for an EC Australia round at circa US$ 14,750 daily. A 80,000 dwt ship fixed delivery CJK for a trip via Australia redelivery India at US$ 11,000. The NoPac is seeing a bit more enquiry with a 2019-built, 82,000 dwt vessel fixing delivery North China for a NoPac round US$ 11,500 daily. There are some hopes that FFAs have reached a floor—levels were seen steady on Tuesday with Sep­tember bid/offer US$ 12,200 versus 12,400 daily.

Rates on the Supramaxes were slightly easier overall at midweek but brokers are reporting a quiet market. Fixtures out of Indonesian direction India dominat­ed among which a 2019-built, 63,000dwt ship fixed delivery Central China for a trip via Indonesia redeli­very WC India at US$ 7,000 daily. A 61,000 dwt fixed delivery South China in the mid US$ 7,000s for a similar trip and a 57,000 dwt delivery Taiwan achieved US$ 5,750 daily for the same. From the In­dian Ocean, smaller Supras were heard to be fixing out of the South Africa region US$ 13-13,250,000 daily plus US$ 300-325,000 BB delivery APS South Africa for front haul trips to China. In the Atlantic a 57,000 dwt fixed delivery Gibraltar for a trip via S.Spain redel West Africa circa US$ 18,000 daily. From the North Continent, a similar sized Supramax was fixed at circa US$ 15,000 daily for a trip to India redelivery South Africa while a 60,000 dwt fixed a trip delivery North Continent via Baltic to the ECSA with fertilizers at US$ 13,000 daily. Little has been heard from the Black Sea area, though a 61,000 dwt was rumoured to be on subs for a front haul circa US$ 24,000 daily.

The USG and ECSA remain quiet. Atlantic values are falling on the Handysizes with most areas seeing low cargo counts. Out of the Medi­terranean, it has been a quiet start to the week. A 33,000 dwt was heard fixed delivery Canakkale for a trip to West Med at US$ 10,500. ECSA and USG are quiet but the tonnage counts are not long and the hope remains of an upswing in demand, which could quickly turn sentiment positive. In the Pacific, levels appear broadly steady in the South but some brokers said rates in the North were under pressure.

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