THE BALTIC Dry Index hit yet another nadir on Friday (3 February) when the index was 621. This was a decrease of 8% on the previous Friday and a decrease of 50% on one month ago when the index was 1250.


As China returned from their Lunar New Year holidays there was hope in some quarters that the market would see a recovery from the steep declines of January. There was optimism that a floor had been found, as there were only marginal daily falls. However, the rot continued with weaker fixtures reported generally and a largely flat C5 West Australia market. The Capesize TC Average finished the week at US$3,561. The backhaul C16 route saw limited activity, a fixture from RBCT to Denmark at US$6 led the TC route down. There was activity from Brazil and a Newcastlemax fixed at US$17.00 for index dates. By the finish, Baltic Capesize fixtures were reported at US$15.50/16.00 levels. It was a slow start to the week on the C5 route. As the week progressed all majors were active, with the trading band set between US$6.3 and US$6.45. Period wise it was quiet, a 2005 177,000-dwt was reported fixed for five to eight months basis prompt delivery China at US$13,000.


It proved to be another week of steady declines for the Panamax market. With a heavy ballaster list and increased tonnage count, resistance from owners was mostly scarce. This resulted in charterers driving down bids, especially in the Atlantic region with Asia marginally bucking the trend. In the Atlantic, aside from some brief NC South America grain demand in the early part, it has been lacklustre with both P1A and P2A routes. Both came under pressure with little sign of abating. A couple of 76,000-dwt were reported midweek basis aps EC South America delivery for trips across to Continent-Mediterranean at US$10,000, which highlighted well the downfall here. In Asia, the market fared marginally better – especially for clean led business. However, with a weak and pessimistic EC South America market South East Asia positions saw little joy. Rates for the limited Indonesia coal trades were severely discounted by the smaller and older units.


A story of split fortunes over the last week for the sector. The Atlantic remained in the doldrums with an oversupply of prompt tonnage in the North and South Atlantic. The Continent and Mediterranean lacked fresh impetus. But by contrast, the Asian market saw healthy demand with better levels of fresh enquiry in Southeast Asia. Further north, there was again better demand from the North Pacific and for backhaul requirements to the Atlantic. Although demand for period remained, there was little reported. From the Atlantic, a 61,000-dwt fixed delivery South America for a trip to the West Mediterranean at US$12,000, whilst a 63,000-dwt open US Gulf fixed a trip to the Far East with petcoke at around US$14,000. From Asia, a 60,500-dwt fixed delivery SE Asia via Dampier redelivery Indonesia at US$12,500. Further north, an Ultramax was heard to have fixed a trip delivery North China redelivery Black Sea excluding Russia and Ukraine at US$8,000.


BHSI made small gains as positive sentiment in Asia continued, as more enquiry entered the market. In Asia, a 32,000-dwt fixed delivery Vancouver for a trip to China with an intended cargo of grains at US$12,500. A 32,000-dwt fixed from South Korea to Southeast Asia at US$5,500 after failing on subjects for similar business at US$4,500 earlier in the week. The Atlantic saw more activity, with a 33,000-dwt fixing from Poland to Turkey with an intended cargo of scrap at US$7,500 and a 32,000-dwt fixing from Brazil to China at US$14,000 with an intended cargo of logs. A 33,000-dwt fixed from Alexandria to the Spanish Mediterranean at US$8,500 with an intended cargo of steels. Period was also more active with a 28,000-dwt fixing basis delivery China for three to five months trading at US$9,100. In the Atlantic, a 28,000-dwt was rumoured to have been fixed for around six months at about US$9,000.


The BCTI finished the week at 626, down from 659 the previous week.

In the Middle East Gulf, freight levels have fallen with cargos not covering available tonnage. Most routes have consequently registered continued decreases from where they were this time last week. The LR2s of TC1, 75,000 Middle East Gulf / Japan, declined from WS106.88 to WS95.63 (-WS11.25) a round-trip TCE of US$10,068 per day. LR1s have also seen a similar downward trajectory over the last week with TC5, 55,000 Middle East Gulf / Japan, declining 7.14 points to WS126.43. On TC8 Middle East Gulf / UK Continent, again the rates were barely budging from last week’s numbers finishing at US$42.95/mt (a lumpsum equivalent of approximately US$2.79m).

The MRs of TC17, 35,000 Middle East Gulf / East Africa, showed some recovery resulting in an increase of 98.63 points to WS237.92 a round-trip TCE of US$24,667 per day. West of Suez, on the LR2s, TC15, 80,000 Mediterranean / Japan, have also softened losing US$283,333 and finishing the week at US$2,391,667. The LR1s of TC16 60,000 Amsterdam / Offshore Lomé were mostly flat, ending the week up WS4.29 points at WS135.

On the UK-Continent, MRs freight levels have evened out. TC2 37k UK-Continent / US Atlantic Coast finished the week at WS140, (-WS1.67). TC19, 37,000 Amsterdam to Lagos, followed suit and finished at WS150 (-WS1.43).

Rates for US Gulf MRs have slowed their rate of decline and now appear to be levelling out as more vessels ballast to the Continent. TC14 38,000 US Gulf / UK-Continent, finished the week at WS70 (-5.42). TC18 the MR US Gulf / Brazil followed TC14 to end the week at WS127.08 (-5.42). MR Atlantic Basket finished the week at US$10,319 per day (-575).


For the 270,000mt Middle East Gulf to China voyage, the rate again rose by a point to WS49.27. This shows a daily round voyage TCE of US$20,300 basis the Baltic Exchange’s vessel description. The rate for 280,000mt Middle East Gulf to US Gulf (via the cape/cape routing) is assessed half a point lower at WS34.5.

In the Atlantic markets, the rate for 260,000mt West Africa/China was flat at WS49.73 (a round-trip TCE of about US$21,200 per day). The rate for 270,000mt US Gulf/China fell US$150,000 to about US$7.327 million (US$19,800 per day round trip TCE).


The Suezmax market was weaker this week. The rate for 135,000mt CPC/Augusta dropped 30 points to WS168 (a round-trip TCE of US$86,100 per day). Rates remain under pressure though. Midway through the week ENI were reported to have fixed a 2006 Built Greek controlled Suezmax at WS170 and overnight reports today have reports of a Spanish controlled 2012 built vessel on subjects to Inpex at WS135. In West Africa, for the 130,000mt Nigeria/Rotterdam voyage, rates fell 11 points to WS111.5 (a daily round-trip TCE of about US$43,000). In the Middle East, the rate for 140,000mt Basra/Lavera had 10 points chopped away and now rests around the WS55-56 mark.


In the North Sea market, rates for the 80,000mt Hound Point/Wilhelmshaven route climbed 2.5 points to nearly WS166 (a round-trip daily TCE of about US$57,600). In the Mediterranean, the rate for 80,000mt Ceyhan/Lavera tumbled another 21.5 points to the WS198-199 region (a daily round-trip TCE of US$66,200). Across the Atlantic, vessel availability became tight again and rates have begun to climb up in the Stateside Aframax market. The rate for 70,000mt East Coast Mexico/US Gulf rose 12.5 points to WS162.5 (about US$38,400 per day round-trip TCE). Meanwhile, the 70,000mt Covenas/US Gulf advanced by 18.5 point to WS155 (a daily round-trip TCE of US$33,100). For the Transatlantic route of 70,000mt US Gulf/Rotterdam, rates are on an upward trajectory, rising 29 points to WS180 (showing a round trip TCE of US$43,500 per day).


The BLNG1g route Australia to Japan fell by US$7,729 per day this week to publish at US$66,605. Slightly lower daily losses were seen in the Atlantic where BLNG2g eased US$3,295 to US$52,413 and BLNG3g fell by US$6,482 to US$64,932. After the recent bigger drop-in rates the market seems to be stabilising on the back of less availability, although sentiment does remains weak.


The LPG market, has continued its new year recovery and has regained the losses incurred since the start of January. On BLPG1 rates increased from US$78.00mt to finish this week at US$92.00/mt, up US$14.0 (TCE equivalent of US$72,394 per day). Sentiment is continuing to improve as tighter tonnage pushes rates higher. However, the prospect of vessels ballasting into the area is looking likely raising the question of how long can the recovery continue?

BLPG2 followed the movements on BLPG1 moving up from US$78.00/mt to finish the week at US$82.80/mt (TCE equivalent of US$88,304 per day) up US$4.80 /mt. The West market has seen more moderate increases with BLPG3 increasing from US$137.714/mt to US$143.714/mt (TCE equivalent US$68,906 per day) and increase of US$6.00/mt.