Dry Bulk: Recovery is on track despite “bumps on the road”
The rebound of the dry bulk market could be in sight, despite looming signs that its momentum is about to slow down moving on to the final weeks of the third quarter and onto the fourth quarter of the year. In its latest weekly report, shipbroker Allied Shipbroking noted that “the bullish ride continues on for the iron ore market, with most in the market now eyeing the possibility for further gains to be had as Chinese steel prices continue to surge once more. It seems as though the iron ore market has now hit what many claim to be a “sweet spot” in terms of prices, with the US$ 60-70 range considered to be good enough to provide the market with enough support for miners to be seeing their profitability ratings go up, but not so high to be pushing back in idle capacity and allowing for a renewed interest in new mining projects to take off.
According to Mr. George Lazaridis, Head of Market Research & Asset Valuations with Allied Shipbroking, “at the same time steel producers have been seeing their inventory levels being driven to low levels, encouraging most firms to raise their output levels and in turn bolster iron ore demand. The problem with this however, is that in part this has been explained by the anticipation held that a curb on Chinese steel production in the winter months could lead to supply shortages, as such driving many consumers to increase their inventories so as to avoid any supply chain disruptions. This curb in production is part of the Chinese governments call on steel producers to halve output in four northern provinces (Hebei, Shangxi, Shandong, Henan) as well as Beijing and Tianjin during the peak heating months (around late November to late February), in order to reduce emissions in each of these respective regions. This in turn leaves the question as to how demand will trend during the winter months, with an increase in stockpiles likely to push for softer demand levels in the final quarter of the year”, he noted.
Allied’s analyst went on to say that “for the moment, it seems as though the recent rally has started to level off, with the freight market already showing more moderate day-to-day increases compared to what we were seeing in the first half of last week. With August typically a slower month in terms of freight performance, we could well see things start to slow down once again and stay that way up until the first weeks of September”.
Lazaridis added that “for now, the upward momentum for Capes and Panamaxes continues to endure, though in the case of both it has slowed down considerably now. We have however surpassed the psychological barrier of 1,000 points on the Baltic Dry Index, something that will surely play its role in feeding another round of optimism amongst owners and even possibly drive renewed interest in the secondhand market as owners look to bolster their position while prices still hold at relatively low levels”.
“We have already started to see hints of such a development, with activity in the secondhand market already pointing to a slight improvement in asset prices. The almost four months high reached on Friday evening for iron ore prices has been a significant step and with the dry bulk fleet having seen its growth rate slow down considerably compared to what we were seeing in the first quarter of the year, we may well find some improved support in the freight market during the final months of the year. Earnings overall have seen a considerable improvement during the first half of the year and this may well have led most to hold high expectations for the final quarter. However, given recent developments, even if the final quarter ends up disappointing compared to what most in the market were hoping to see, it seems as though the improvement in the market is still insight and on track. Given that we have one of the smallest orderbook to fleet ratios that we have seen in modern times and based on the fact that we have already started to reach some moderate supply/demand balance, there is plenty of reasoning for further such market rallies to take place”, Lazaridis concluded.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide