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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