The past month has been characterised by falling rates in most sectors, the only bright spot being a slight resurgence in the Supramex sectors over the past week, but apart from that note of optimism markets have generally been affected by weather-related problems while longer-term worries centre around the continual drip-feeding of new bulk tonnage from the major yards.
Taking a moment to review the past year, the Baltic Dry Index BDI has fallen by an alarming 57 per cent in 12 months with Panamax indices showing a dramatic 55 per cent drop. Suprahandy tonnage saw a 42 per cent decline while the Handy sector a 36 per cent drop over the past year. Not a year shipowners would want to remember and with the BDI now down to its lowest for two years, the more optimistic owners would suggest that things can only get better – a view reflected in steadily rising commodity prices of late. If only the new deliveries would disappear.
As brokers at Barry Rogliano point out, the year is only in its infancy but by mid-January 20 new Capes have been delivered, nine Panamaxes, 28 Supramaxes, and 21 Handysizes, indicating that the pace of delivery is actually increasing. Not surprisingly, brokers in the forward freight market sector (FFA) are posting 2H 2011 trades at US$21,000 per day compared to a higher US$24,000 some six months ago.
Currently the Panamax 4TC average remains fairly flat at between US$15,300 and US$15,400 per day. However the two main markets went in opposite directions. The Pacific showing some resistance due to the number of ballasters going to the USG and ECSA, while ships caught in the congestion in Queensland created some opportunities for the other vessels. The Nopac route gained US$500 and closed last week at US$10,000 per day. West of Suez, in the Atlantic, the market eased by some US$1000 as very few fresh requirements hit the market and the fleet supply end Jan was growing day by day – notes Rogliano.
As noted above the Supramax sector has bucked the downward trend of late with the BSI up 2.44 per cent in the most recent week although this gain from what was its lowest point of 1371 (since April 2009) in early January this year. So some improvements long overdue. Demand for Supra’s period charters seems better this month with charterers cautious of an impending rate gains. Timecharter average rates are now recorded at US$14,000 per day, with 3-5 month periods paying US$15,350 per day and 11-13 months likely to pay US$15,000 per day.
For the smaller Handysizes, the trend of the BHI has been steady in recent days the driver has been East Coast South America which has been more active than the US Gulf or the Continent and the Black Sea which remains devoid of any real activity. On the sale and purchase side Excel Maritime of Greece sold their Handymax ‘Marybelle’ (43,000dwt, built 1987 in Japan) to Bangladeshi buyers for a price in the region of US$10.8m in late-December while the National Navigation Co of Egypt have sold their sister Handies ‘Alwadi Al Gadeed’ and ‘Wadi Halfa’ (32,000 dwt, built 1985 in South Korea) for about US$7m each.