After the short rush of last week that pushed Capes and Panamax rates up again, the market seems now to play the waiting game with the Chinese New Year festivities about to start. However, despite the very low volume of business, Capes rates didn’t fall sharply due to the still tight fleet availability. A weaker market in the Atlantic and still a low volume of business in the East had some more impact on Panamax rates having lost all the ground gained last week. This context has even more affected the Handysize/max markets as rates were already on a downward trend for three weeks. So, to wait seems to be the only solution for most players of dry bulk markets so far, for owners trying not to stay open for the period and for charterers to delay their stems as long as they can. But as soon as the Far Eastern charterers will be back on track we can expect the rates to firm up again.
The Panamax market was rather quiet last week, and there was no tangible pre-Chinese-new-year rush on ships. All Baltic T/C routes fell, even by almost US$3,000 per day. Meanwhile, time-charter rates remained remarkably stable, and there is still hardly any discount on one year deals compared to shorter periods. The market remains very hard to read, with very few cargoes and ships being quoted widely. It seems as if most of the players try to keep the market stable for the moment, at least during the next days of Far-Eastern holidays. Its seems as if we might have to wait until the end or towards the end of these holidays before a real direction becomes visible.
The market of Handysize/Handymax has been going down for three consecutive weeks now and the last fixtures reported are not to make owners being more confident. Handymaxes in the Pacific are now getting in the US$ mid-20’s for 3/5 months when they used to obtain always close to US$30,000 in 2004. Obviously, the Chinese New year is affecting the trend, which should not change this coming week even if the Atlantic basin might be the first to rise again if the grains stems from South America are all becoming firm, i.e. if the massive crop finds enough buyers.
Source: Barry Rogliano Salles, shipbrokers, Paris