The dry bulk market inched a bit higher on Monday, with the Baltic Dry Index (BDI) ending the session up by 5 points to 1,162. Most markets were higher, with the Panamax Index gaining the most at 1,145 points, while the Capesize one was also on a high. The only exception was the Handysize market, which retreated by four points yesterday. Still, the index is more than 30% lower than the start of the year, with capesize average spot charter earnings showing a fall of more than 80% by reaching levels of $3,988/day, from about $24,000/day at the beginning of the year. On mid June, capesize average spot earnings fell at their lowest point since December 2008, of less than $3,500/day, with panamax vessels showing softness at levels of less than $8,000/day from more than $13,000/day at the beginning of May.
In recent comments, Golden Destiny’s analysts noted that “during the first days of July, BDI continues its upward trend with capesize average spot earnings surpassing the barrier of $5,000/day and panamax earnings climbing to more than $8,000/day. Smaller vessel categories, supramax and handysize units are showing firmness at levels of more than $13,000/day and $10,000/day respectively. The positive performance of smaller vessel categories has been supported by increased movement of grains and a number of minor bulk cargoes, while the fragile Chinese iron ore and coal demand impaired the demand for capesize and panamax tonnage. Chinese demand for imported iron ore cargo posed weakness in June due to a tremendous decline in steel production and a large amount of iron ore stockpiled at Chinese ports, despite the rise of Chinese iron ore imports in the first five months of the year to around 300.1mt, up 9% year-on-year” they said.
Still, as Maria Bertzeletou noted in the latest weekly report from Golden Destiny, the prospects for the second half of the year aren’t yet promising in all for the dry bulk market. “Chinese steel production has not yet recovered, port stockpiles are elevated, above 96 million tons of iron ore and 8.7 million tons of coal, while Chinese iron ore demand is expected to show not significant strength in the coming weeks. Chinese demand for imported thermal coal is also poised to remain low on the short term, as power plant and coal stockpiles remain high and hydropower production continues to be on rise. However, peak summer electricity demand season is underway in China and a rebound in thermal coal fixture volume is likely for the second half of the year with stronger panamax earnings. Top grade iron ore price shows sings of weakness with the benchmark 62% iron ore content price falling to $135/tonne as Chinese steelmakers have reduced their purchases from declining steel production that has hit the iron ore supply chain” she said.
She also added that “despite the recent negative picture of capesize ton mille demand, there is still faith in the segment as Chinese government’s stimulus measures in the industrial sector may bring firmer iron ore demand, but it seems difficult the capesize average spot earning to surpass the levels of $10,000/day as they are struggling to perform in the current vessel’s supply figures, when in December of 2011, they were floating at levels near to $30,000/day. Under the current fundamentals, shipping players prefer to move towards the scrapping of overaged large sized vessels, capesizes and panamaxes, with secondhand investments being on the frontline as more preferable type of investment than the construction of new units.
Secondhand asset prices have plunged from the first half of 2011, especially in the large sized vessel segments, capesize and panamax, with the BDI triggering further falls during the second half of the year. According to the Baltic Exchange’s Sale and Purchase Assessments, the value of a 5yrs old capesize of 172,000dwt has dropped to about $33,4mil from $42,9 at the end of June 2011, while at end of June 2008 was more than $153mil. In the panamax market, the value of a 5yrs old vessel of 74,000dwt is now at near $23mil, from $30,8 at the end of June 2011, while at the end of June 2008 was more than $88mil. In the supramax segment, the value of 5yrs old vessel of 52,000dwt is now in the region of $22mil from $27,5mil at the end of June 2011, while at the end of June 2008 was at more than $75mil” she concluded.
Still, for the time being Capesizes are currently earning $7,904/day, an increase of $3,916/day from a week ago, while panamaxes are earning $9,002/day, an increase of $1,167/day. At similar week in 2011, capesizes were earning $13,995/day, while panamaxes were earning $13,471/day. Supramaxes are trading at $13,556/day, up by $411day from last week’s closing, 72% and 51% higher than capesize and panamax earnings respectively. At similar week in 2011, supramaxes were getting $13,443/day, hovering at 3.9% lower levels than capesizes versus 72% today’s higher levels. Handysizes are trading at $ 10,309/day; down $105/day from last week, when at similar week in 2011 were earning $10,422/day.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide