With the ever-important holiday period bearing down in the next few weeks, traders, owners and charterers alike are all looking at the writing on the wall, hoping to put in their last-minute year-ending requirements at the best possible profit. As such, market fundamentals remain locked into a largely sideways path even as there are no longer signs of bunker prices rising enough to push operating costs any higher than they were at the start of the month. Northbound trips are still fetching rates just below €50/mt from the Spanish Med into the North Sea with some reports of rates even exceeding €50/mt on redelivery Ireland. Southbound freights from Ireland into the lower Baltic are securing rates in the middle-high €20s/mt with at least one owner claiming to have fixed €30/mt on this business with agri-prods of 5,000mt (46′). Charterers are said to be behaving slightly more accommodating for fixing urgent business on Baltic delivery with the BMTI benchmark rates from the Baltic States to ARAG seen pushing slightly higher into the mid-high €20s/mt range and talk of €27-28/mt being done on some cargoes ex-Klaipeda even if the prevailing rates are still largely in the vicinity of €26/mt on this run. Stormy weather rolling across the North Sea and northern Continent is said to be getting even worse, which has driven a number of delays and cancellations, which are in turn impinging on overall tonnage availability, ultimately propping up freights by an uncertain degree.
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