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Dry bulk market keeps falling for worst month in years

Tuesday, 31 January 2012 | 00:00
The dry bulk market didn't manage to put a halt in its downfall, with the industry's benchmark, the BDI (Baltic Dry Index), posting yet another fall in the start of the week and reach just 702 points, down by 24 on the day. It’s been the worst start of the year for years, with January proving to be the most difficult month for ship owners, as a result of newbuilding deliveries, especially in the Capesize sector. As a result, the BDI is now trading dangerously close to the lows reached on the aftermath of the global financial crisis some three and a half years ago (start of December of 2008, when the index was trading just above 660 points).
Yesterday, all major indices were down, with Panamaxes still suffering dearly. The relative Baltic Panamax Index (BPI) retreated by 50 points to end the session at just 765 points, while the Capesize Index proved a bit more resilient, losing just 9 points to 1,456. Still, the smaller Handysizes are still suffering, recording loss after loss for a series of weeks now. As a result, the BHSI (Baltic Handysize Index) has now fallen to just 416 points.
According to the latest weekly report from Barry Rogliano Salles (BRS), “with Chinese New Year marking an unofficial pause in the market, all sizes ended the week in the "red". The BDI stood at 726 points (-15.8%) while the BCI ended at 1465 (-5.7%), the BPI at 815 (-20.1%), the BSI at 695 (-13.9%) and the BHI at 426 points (-12.2%). In the coal markets, it was announced that China overtook Japan as the largest coal importer in the world in 2011,pushing Japan off the top spot. Although Japan’s drop is partly a result of problems caused by the Japanese earthquake, China could retain pole position in 2012” said the Paris-based shipbroker.

Referring to the Capesize market, BRS noted that “another 17% was knocked off the Capesize 4TC last week as a combination of Chinese holidays and Australian weather problems brought rates quickly down. By Friday, the 4TC was at $5,566, a level not seen for eleven months. The cyclone in western Australia saw orders from the Pacific dry up, whi le there was also a corresponding drop in activity in the Atlantic. West Australia-China was
quoted as low as $7.65, while Tubarao-China was at $19.35, with $19.10 reported done during the week. Translatantic rounds were around $5,000. Monday saw another $76 deleted, bringing the 4TC to $5,490” it said.
In the Panamax front, the shipbroker mentioned that “the slide of the market continued from the previous week with a dramatic drop in rates over the Chinese New Year period in what was a very muted market with little to report. The 4TC shaved off $1,643 w-o-w whilst TA,FH and the Pacific all took a substantial hit losing $2,156, $2,387 and $912 respectively. The BH now stands in negative territory at -$950 per day. The outlook remains bleak with tonnage massing and little cargo being apparent worldwide, this on top of high stockpiles which have further contributed to the slackening in demand” said the report.
Finally, in the Supramax/Handy segment of the market, BRS said that “during the last week, the market has deteriorated further across the board. While the East spot market has been relatively stable at very low levels, period rates went down further. The Atlantic market has softened significantly during the last week. On the Continent, we have seen tonnage accumulating and Supramax rates for scrap runs to the Med have gone down from around mid teens to around $10,000 last week. Some isolated bad examples, such as a 45,000 dwt mid 90s built ship, fixed for this run at $8,900, are certainly not always immediately representative but definitely illustrate the downward trend. A remarkable downturn has also been witnessed in the US Gulf where the index rate for a trip to Skaw Passero is now set to break the $12,000 mark. From ECSA the days are basically over where owners can demand a reasonable ballast bonus. Very low teens are now the target for grain charterers basis aps upriver for a trip to Skaw/Passero. For trips out, Supras should be able to earn mid $10,000 basis dop west Africa. It remains to be seen if the return of the Chinese market players will have a significant impact on rates” concluded the report.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide
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