Dry bulk markets improve against backdrop of Middle East conflicts

Published 05 March 2011

With markets understandably rather unpredictable as a result of the continuing Middle East troubles, shipowners will be cheered by the upward swing in rates for all dry bulk sectors over recent days. In fact, the Bulk Dry Index has moved up by about eight per cent over the last week as charterers have rushed to fix tonnage over the coming month. Stronger demand out of South America lifted the smaller sizes, while better transatlantic demand pushed Cape rates up. In the iron ore segment, a short-term surge in demand seems possible after India imposed new export taxes on the commodity with traders reflecting on a likely 30% fall in export sales this year. Nearly all of India’s iron ore shipments are destined for China, and it may prompt Chinese buyers to fix prior to the 1 April deadline (report brokers at Barry Rogliano).

The Panamax market continued to strengthen in all regions, eg a week-on-week increase of over US$1000 in the Atlantic to reach US$16,000 per day, and more than US$1500 in the Pacific, to close at US$14,800 per day. Rates have also improved in the back of rising enquiries for coal demand from the US and grain cargos from ECSA. In the Pacific, the sentiment was seen as also very positive for spot as well as short-period enquiry.

The Supramax market also continued its upward trend from the previous week, the BSI gained 6% to reach a TC average of US$15,340 by weekend. The increase was much stronger in the Pacific basin than in the Atlantic, and the NOPAC round gained 13% to reach about US$15,500 by the end of the week. However, despite better market conditions in the Pacific, owners with Supras in the Atlantic were reluctant to fix them for a trip out to Pacific waters – brokers stated.

The Supramax market in the Continent was strong thanks to scrap and fertilizer orders, Supras getting about US$20,000 for a trip with scrap from Cont/Baltic with redelivery east Med.  The market in the US was quite stable with few fixtures and only marginal gains recorded in rates.  Some slowdown was seen in the Indian market as a result of the new taxation imposed on iron ore exports.

In the Handysize sector, the BHSI moved slightly upwards last week too. The Atlantic was relatively flat with lower demand. As a result rates hovered at the same levels as the week previous. The ECSA only recorded some good levels of activity for trips to the Pacific. The Pacific also held steady with slight gains for both front-haul trips and Pacific rounds.