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Dry bulk market's correction "spills" over onto new week
Date:2012-10-14 18:55

                              Dry bulk market's correction "spills" over onto new week

The dry bulk market is losing steam, as evidenced by the falls experienced last week, which were also apparent at the beginning of the new week. A lot of this fall is stemming from the fall of steel prices in China, which is pushing steel mills’ margins to near break-even levels, which in turn are causing them to limit their iron ore purchases.

 Yesterday, the Baltic Dry Index (BDI), the industry’s benchmark, was down by 2.63% to 1,965 points. The biggest losses were obvious in the Capesize sector, with the Baltic Capesize Index (BCI) losing 4.34% to 3,132 points. Similarly, all other shipping segments were down, with Supramaxes retreating the most (after Capesizes) to 1,531 points, down by 0.91% on the day.

According to the latest weekly report of Paris-based shipbroker Barry Rogliano Salles, there were substantial losses across the board this week: the BDI lost 6.3% to end at 2,018 and the BCI 8.2% to end 3,274. In the smaller sizes the losses were more constrained: the BPI dropped -4.3% to 1,939, the BSI -4% to 1,545 and the BHSI -4.8% to finish at 786. “Speculation is now rife concerning the fall in the iron ore price and whether it signifies a longer term trend in China. Ore prices experienced the biggest ever 7-day fall last week, and prices for immediate delivery of benchmark iron ore into China fell to $120/ton on Friday, down from $181 on 7 September” said the report.

It went on to mention that “historically, demand for ore has softened in China in September and October, but has recovered in the build up to Christmas as the country faces the worst winter conditions. This year the slump has lasted longer than normal, with low steel prices and credit problems discouraging buyers. However the current spot price is close to the break-even production price for Chinese domestic producers, suggesting to many that the international price will not fall much below that. Though CISA says it believes the price will fall further, other sources say there is no change to the fundamentals and buyers are withholding purchases in order to see where the market shakes out” said BRS.

Referring to the Capesize segment, the shipbroker mentioned that “the correction expected the previous week was finally apparent this week, with low levels of activity especially in the Pacific forcing rates down. Overall the 4TC dropped 9%, falling to $28,214 — the first time it has slipped below the $30,000 mark since 19 October. The main driver was an absence of Australian shippers, with the Hedland-Qingdao route seeing the most severe decline. This led to tonnage ballasting to Brazil, but here too cargo volumes were thinner. In the paper market, there was a similar pattern with November contracts losing $5,000 by Friday w-o-w. Monday saw another $1,500 wiped off the 4TC, a trend which if it continues could signal bigger losses this week” it mentioned.

Meanwhile, during the past week, the Panamax market became quieter after the recent recovery. “A clear pause in rising rates was recorded but we did not see the market dropping. The Panamax market has not said its last word however, while everyone expects a drop in rates in the near future. Transatlantic rates held up quite well in the $17,500-18,000 range or $22/pmt for USG to Continent voyage on LME, but P1A lost $700 over the same period. The number of open vessels did not build up as quickly as expected, but today’s update clearly indicates tonnage is building up now.

 In the Pacific, rates remained flat with high numbers seen for North Pacific voyage. P3A posted a $650 loss ending at $13,875 but some high fixtures were reported for very specific trades. Indonesia to China traded in the $9.40-$9.60 range in a downward trend and WCI to China trip lost some ground after being hot the last 3 weeks during the “postmonsoon rally”. The period market remained relatively stable in the high $14,000s per day for 4-6 months, with short period the main period traded for obvious reasons” said BRS.

Finally, commenting on the Supramax/Handy markets, the shipbroker said that “after a few weeks of a rising BSI, the trend has reversed again. The BSI lost about 4%, while the average of the TC routes lost $649 from Friday to Friday to reach an average of $16,155. The market was dropping heavily in the Pacific and the Nopac round voyage lost $1,607 to reach $12,217 by the end of the week.

In the Atlantic the rates were coming off as well but at a slower rate. The US Gulf remained strong, with Supras getting fixed to the Far East at about $34,000 while the same route was fixed in the $36,000 the week before. Out of West Africa, Supras were getting about $14,000 for a trip via ECSA with redelivery in the Med. The Continent remained strong due to a lack of tonnage, and a Supra was fixed $17,500 delivery Continent via Baltic to the Red Sea with redelivery Port Said. Supra rates in the Pacific have been sliding fast.

Iron ore exports from India, especially from ECI have all dried up. To add to that, Chinese demand for iron ore as well as coal has  subsided and the prices for these commodities are falling fast. The short term perspective looks gloomy and owners are trying to give out their tonnage on short period, with Supras aiming for around $14,000” concluded BRS.

Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

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