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Dry bulk market’s demise continues as China heads for holiday

Tuesday, 24 January 2012 | 00:00
China’s holidays this week are expected to keep the pressure on the beleguered dry bulk market, which has been witnessing one the worst starts of the year so far. As a result, yesterday, the Baltic Dry Index (BDI), the industry’s benchmark has kept its downward trend, falling by an additional 21 points to just 841 points in total. By late 2011, the BDI stood just shy of 2,000 points, an indication of the collapse since then. Once again, yesterday, all major ship markets were down on the day, with Capesize losing the least (just seven points), while Panamaxes were the biggest “losers” of the day, with the respective index ending down by 38 points, to just 982 points.
According to the latest weekly report on the dry bulk market by Paris-based shipbroker Barry Rogliano Salles (BRS), “the lunar year celebrations and the high number of newbuilding deliveries (more than 35 Capes so far in January as owners push 2011 deliveries into the new year) has kept the pressure on all dry bulk segments, pushing the indices down to levels not seen in very long time. The BDI ended the week at 862 points (-18.1%), a level last reached just after the Lehman Bros shock in October and November 2008. The individual segments
read as follows: the BCI dropped to 1,554 (-9.8%), the BPI and the BSI to 1,020 (-19.3%) and 807 (-16.9%) respectively, and the BHI slipped to 485 points (-9.0%). All sizes continued to head south at the start of the new week” said BRS.
Referring to the Capesize market during the past week, the shipbroker said that “another severe drop in the Capesize 4TC this last week as China prepared for its New Year celebrations, removing any possibility of a turnaround in the near term. At $6,688 per day by close on Friday, this represents the lowest level for eight months, and a 27% drop on the previous week. At these levels, lay-up has again become a reality. The Atlantic market saw the biggest decline with Bolivar-east Med dropping as much as 10% and Tubarao-Rotterdam 6%. In the Pacific, trade was fairly brisk but rates remained flat to slightly negative at $7.60-$7.65. Tubarao-China dropped 3% to $19.55 by Friday and was reported as low as $19.35. However in the FFA market, activity suggested rates may be close to a bottom, and overall Feb+Mar and Cal12 closed the week up, at $10,529 (+679) and $12,958 (+334). Monday saw another fall in the 4TC however, and the Cape time charter average is now trading at a 6% discount to the Handies” said BRS in its report.

Similarly, in the Panamax segment of the market, BRS noted that “last week saw the decline in Panamax rates continue unabated in the face of limited fresh cargoes and an ever growing tonnage list. The Atlantic market remained under pressure with the 1A index falling back from $10,731 to $7,824, and 2A index from $21,183 to $18,127. One of the primary drivers behind this trend (besides the distinct lack of cargo) has been the sheer number of ballasters arriving from the East. High coal stockpiles, uncertainty surrounding forward demand for both iron ore and steel products, and the imminent lunar New Year holidays have depressed demand in the Pacific, forcing many owners to search for business elsewhere. Both 1A and 2A markets have subsequently been hammered, with many fixtures in fact being reported at levels well below that of the current index. The supply side is unlikely to improve any time soon, as many newbuilds initially slated for delivery at the end of 2011 are pushed back into Q1 2012. The outlook in the coming weeks remains bearish, with reported 3-5 month period rates declining below $10,000 per day basis delivery Far East. There are some commentators who believe rates should decline less sharply in the coming week or two, although likewise it is also difficult to argue in favour of any sharp improvement” mentioned BRS.
Finally, “the Handy/Handymax market saw rates heading south throughout last week although at a slower pace than their larger cousins. The week started at almost $10,000 and closed at $8,500 for the Supras and $7,600 down to $6,900 for the Handies. A remarkable achievement in an otherwise dull market largely affected by the holidays in the Far East.
No area was spared except maybe for South America where some activity started, together with the grain exports out of Argentina. That being said, the reduction of the available draft in the river is affecting owners’ revenue. The rest of the world has been severely hit with the USG taking the biggest hit since there were reports last week of a TES 58 fixing at $13,500 for a trip to the Continent. Period activity has come close to zero, with no one willing to commit, although some index-linked deals randomly surface” concluded BRS.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide
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