The turmoil in which the Capes were navigating for two weeks seemed to calm down but by the end of the week the overall activity started to slow down again. Despite the Atlantic Panamax market seeing some more fixing activity, rates remained under pressure due to the number of ships willing to stay in the area. Handymax rates kept on sliding downwards.
The Atlantic Panamax market continued to be active with owners still keen to fix short trips in order to keep their vessels in the area for the long awaited up turn in grain exports from South America. This surge has still not manifested itself although most think that it will come during the second half of April.
Lots of fixing in the Pacific basin but rates for rounds and trips back were considerably weaker. Richards Bay was very quiet for Panamax especially as Cape rates also came down again. Period activity has slowed down significantly as the market takes a breather with most Panamax operators unwilling to look at the shorter term deals of one, two or three years. If anything they are sellers of these periods and feel that five years is now a much better buy.
The Handy and Handymax market which showed more resistance than the bigger sizes so far faced a serious slow down namely in the Atlantic with time charter rates having lost more than US$1000/day during the week. Operators waiting for the grain season to really start, 43,000dwt are now fixed at low 40s for t/c trip US Gulf to Continent and market still looking for direction in the Atlantic. In the Pacific, Handymax still being fixed in the region of low 30s for Pacific round voyages when smaller units 25,000dwt can always expect low 20s for same trade. But the general feeling is less bullish and the owners who are marketing their vessels for period from now are not getting, for the time being, the rates fixed at the beginning of 2004.
Week ending: 02/04/2004
Source: Barry Rogliano Salles Shipbrokers