A rebound of demand for smaller dry bulk carriers has led the industry’s benchmark, the BDI (Baltic Dry Index) above the 1,000-point mark for the first time since late February. The BDI was up by 2.19% to 1,028 points, with Panamaxes leading the fray. The Baltic’s Panamax Index was up by a whopping 4.88% to 1,354 points. Other dry bulk carriers, like the Supramaxes and the Handies were also on higher ground yesterday, reaching 922 points
(up by 1.85%) and 556 points (up by 1.09%) respectively. By contrast, the Capesize market was unchanged since the previous day.
As a result of these gains, average daily earnings for Panamaxes now stand at $10,835, while those for supramax and Handysize vessels are set to $10,374 and $8,399 respectively. Average daily earnings for capesizes, which typically transport 150,000 tonne cargoes such as iron ore and coal, were at $6,627, on concerns of slowing demand in China.
In a quote to Reuters, Arctic Securities analyst Erik Nikolai Stavseth said that “despite capes being stuck in a rut, the BDI is showing positive tendencies. The lift has been especially helped by panamax/supramax which both are trading above $10,000 a day currently" he said. Similarly, RS Platou Markets analyst Frode Morkedal said that "the Capesize segment was still reeling under the weight of oversupplied markets and activity failing to pick up. Spot fixture activity has remained minimal as the iron ore majors were absent in both the Atlantic and the Pacific basins". Dry bulk freight rates are being pressured by growing ship supply, which is outpacing commodity demand. Analysts predict that further gains in the overall index are likely to be capped if capsize rates fail to improve in the near term, as gains in the smaller segments will be limited due a diminishing grain activity.
In a separate note, Jeffrey Landsberg from Commodore Research & Consultancy said that “another positive sign for Chinese economic growth has surfaced as Chinese steel production recently set another monthly record. According to the National Bureau of Statistics, Chinese steel mills produced a record 61.58 million tons of crude steel in March. This is 5.7mt (10%) more than produced in February and 2.18mt (4%) more than produced in March 2011. China's previous monthly crude steel production record was 60.25mt produced in May 2011.
As we discussed, we continue to believe that supporting economic growth is becoming more of a priority in China. Chinese banks issued approximately 1.01 trillion yuan ($160 billion) in loans in March, 300 billion yuan (42%) more than issued in February and 331 billion yuan (49%) more than issued in March 2011. March's 1.01 trillion yuan in loans far exceed the 738 billion yuan in loans issued in January. We continue to believe that the recent surge in lending is a another sign that growth will be supported and that new construction projects will soon take shape” concluded Landsberg.
Commenting on the Panamax market, shipbroker Fearnleys said in its weekly report that “a firmer tendency in both hemispheres, mainly driven by increased activity from ECSA grains. Fresh coal requirements from USG and Indonesia are adding fuel to the optimism for both ballasters and prompt positions. North Atlantic is tight for tonnage where Charterers now pay 10-11k to cover short rounds and 19-20k for trips out. The Pacific market is also gaining strength, to hover around 10k for NOPAC and 14k for India to China. Ballasters targeting ECSA grains are able to achieve above 12k passing Singapore. A more active period market with short period levels done above 11k/day and one-year at mid/upper 10. The forward curve following the trend but with less pace” said Fearnleys.
On the Capesize front, the shipbroker noted that “sentiment is again negative as spot volumes not by far living up to hopes/expectations. With plenty of coal stored in Continent ports, transatlantic trades are at a low and operators fall over each other at rock-bottom levels to keep their units within this geographical area. Consequent Colombian and US coal stems redirected to Asian destinations are not sufficient to maintain fronthaul levels, with a resultant marginal drop in the Tubarao/Qingdao trade to around USD 21 pmt. Far East volumes are similarly unimpressive, with WAust/China levels coming down again to around USD 7.75 pmt - equivalent to far below OPEX. Paper levels give little support for period fixing – and the majority of Capes done for 12 months recently seems to have been at discounted levels from distressed Far Eastern players” concluded Fearnleys.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide