Despite a start to the year that was not as "red hot" as last year on dry bulk shipping markets, optimism still seems to be prevailing among raw material producers. Last week some good prospects have arisen on the coal exports front and this week has seen a rather strong comeback of positive outlook on the iron ore market. Then a series of new massive and long term investment projects both in steel production (Hyundai INI Steel with a 7m tons new plant) and iron ore mining (Rio Tinto developing the $2 billion Hope Downs iron ore project) have been disclosed this week, revealing a certain level of faith in this sector.
In the Panamax market, last week saw the BPI fall each day, decreasing from 2410 to 2238 points. The later half of the week has been quite active with charterers taking advantage of falling rates - some early positions have held out for higher rates despite the index levels, especially in the Pacific. However, as tonnage builds up in both basins, especially in the Atlantic, rates continue to fall. There is no sign of a change in trend in the immediate future. Richards Bay/Rotterdam spot rate is now around the US$16.00 mark, which is considerably higher than the Cape C4 rate, currently standing at around US$12.00 for the first half of February. We are starting to see vessels coming open during the next 2 weeks at Gibraltar, showing interest in Richard Bay stems, which underlines the lack of activity in the Atlantic and may also point to a cap on the rates for potential Richard Bay loaders coming open MEG/PMO.
Some period activity with modern 77,000dwt was reported fixed at around US$17,500 for around one year delivery Singapore/Japan range. Modern Panamax was reported fixed for fronthaul Black Sea/Far East at US$20,000, while backhaul was witnessed at around US$16,000.
The Pacific market, which has been showing good resistance since the beginning of the year, has been also drifting throughout the week, and Supramax t/c rates have lost about five per cent in both basins with Pacific and Atlantic r/v ending the week within the region of US$17,000 and US$16,000 respectively. With a lot of prompt tonnage available, rates may continue to drift in all areas this week except if charterers have to put more cargoes on the market prior the Chinese holidays, which will start at the beginning of February.
Source: Barry Rogliano Salles, Shipbrokers, Paris