The downward trend that the market has been feeling since the middle of last week, mainly due to congestion and force majeure problems in Australian ports and a slow start to the South American grain season, has again curbed rates this week. This has been highly sensitive for Capsize tonnage and to a lesser extent for Panamax ships. Both owners and charterers seem to be waiting for the situation to settle, just fixing short-term commitments and thinking that this correction is no more than temporary and technical.
The Atlantic Panamax market was a bit more active this week, especially for the mineral trades, with vessels giving discounts for the shorter voyages hoping to better position themselves for the promised increase in grain cargoes set to emerge in April/May. The Pacific market was considerably weaker on both inter-Pacific and backhaul trades but Richards Bay managed to hold its own although activity was reduced. Period activity slowed a bit as charterers and operators unsure of which way the market will go.
The Handymax market ended the week on a very slow motion. Rates came off on all routes. Prompt positions in the Pacific were plentiful. Modern tonnage talk mid-30s for Aussie R-V, which is not too bad after all. The Atlantic suffer a lack of cargoes particularly from the US Gulf and ESCA where the long awaited June season fail to materialise still. Severe drought in South Brazil and Argentina and floadings in North Brazil are affecting the soya bean crop where estimates show a 14 per cent drop below expectations. This combined with the present strike at Paranagua should have an impact in the near future.
Week ending: 21/03/2004
Source: Barry Rogliano Salles Shipbrokers