Black Sea dry freight rates improve as Russian wheat prices fall
The Black Sea Supramax and Handysize markets saw small increases in time charter rates as inquiries about export grain cargoes rose as a result of lower Russian wheat prices.
Handysize freight prices increased for the first time since October as lower demand for Russian wheat saw prices soften across the board.
Prompt-loading FOB Novorossiysk 12.5% protein wheat was heard to trade at $239/mt, down 4% from the $247.50/mt four-year high posted at the beginning of February.
Grain traders late last week said the Russian wheat price decrease was likely to boost exports, and on Tuesday shipbrokers said activity in the Supramax and Handysize markets increased.
After Langlois was heard on Friday having fixed the MV Agia Doxa for a grains cargo sailing from the Black Sea to Morocco for $5,000/day, DOP Canakkale basis, market participants pegged similar fixtures on Tuesday at between $5,500/day and $6,000/day.
BLACK SEA A LAGGARD OF LATE
The Black Sea has underperformed the Atlantic Supramax market in recent weeks, with time charter rates increasing as much as $5,000/day along the US Gulf and East Coasts.
Voyage rates in $/mt have pushed higher throughout much of the Atlantic Basin as bunker fuel prices and cargo demand have increased since the end of the Lunar New Year celebrations.
However, the level of FOB prices for Russian 12.5% wheat stifled export cargo inquiries in the Black Sea region as lower European and US wheat prices left Russian and Ukrainian exports uncompetitive.
As a result, Black Sea freight rates languishing behind other West-of-Suez markets as vessels competed on price for any available cargoes.
Freight rates’ change of direction came as shallow water FOB-Azov Russian 12.5% protein wheat was assessed at $221.50/mt Monday, its lowest point in a month, while deepsea 12.5% protein wheat fell to $237.50/mt, its lowest point since January 2.
After export demand increased, S&P Global Platts assessed the Nikolaev to Alexandria, 25,000 mt grains route at $15/mt on Tuesday, a day-on-day increase of 25 cents, while the longhaul Yuzhny to Cigading, 50,000 mt Supramax route was assessed at $25.25/mt, up 50 cents.