THE BALTIC Dry Index fell slightly at the end of a dynamic week, but the index is still higher than it has been for most of the past year.
The BDI hit 2348 on Friday (15 December). This was a decrease of 5.4% on the previous Friday
The Capesize market experienced a dynamic week, with distinct developments in the Pacific and Atlantic regions. The Pacific market started the week on a high note, driven by port closures in North China due to weather and the presence of all three major players from West Australia to China, leading to a robust rise of US$1155 on the BCI 5TC to US$36,475. Despite a setback mid-week due to alleviated port delays, the Pacific rebounded on Thursday with the closure of three more ports in North China and continued major player activity, resulting in a positive shift in C5 rates. In contrast, the Atlantic faced challenges with sluggish activity, widening bid/offer gaps, and weaker fixtures from South Brazil and West Africa to the Far East. Overall, the BCI 5TC closed the week at US$34,107, reflecting the market’s regional fluctuations and ongoing uncertainties.
The beginning of the week saw a slight correction across most areas with a good amount of fresh tonnage and limited enquiry seeing rates slip further. The North Atlantic lacked fresh impetus, although as the week progressed there remained demand from the South Atlantic and some saw a tightness of tonnage supply for January dates, which helped maintain a fairly even level. An 80,000-dwt open India fixed a trip via EC South America for a trip to Singapore – Japan at US$14,000, while an 81,000-dwt fixed a front haul basis delivery Gibraltar trip via US Gulf redelivery Singapore-Japan at US$29,000. From Asia, little excitement as limited fresh enquiry from Indonesia and NoPac came into play. A 74,000-dwt open China fixed a trip via Indonesia redelivery Japan at US$15,000. Period action was limited, although an 82,000-dwt open Singapore fixed 6/8 months trading redelivery worldwide at US$17,000.
A rather positional week ensued for the sector, but overall sentiment remained rather poor. In the Atlantic, slower demand from key areas such as the US Gulf saw rates slip from the recent highs while in the South Americas, a relatively tight tonnage supply saw rates maintain their levels. From Asia, little fresh enquiry appeared in the north and NoPac regions, which saw some tonnage ballast towards South Asia where cargo enquiry remained steady, but rates generally remained flat. Period activity slowed, with a 61,000-dwt coming open worldwide in February-March 2024 was heard fixed for 13-16 months trading at 120% of BSI. In the Atlantic, a 63,500-dwt was heard fixed delivery West Africa for a trip to China at US$32,000 with nickel ore. From Asia, a 63,000-dwt open China fixed an Australian round redelivery Singapore-Japan at US$12,00. From the Indian Ocean, a 63,000-dwt fixed delivery South Africa for a trip to India-Bangladesh at US$23,000 plus US$250,000 ballast bonus.
A week of positivity across the Atlantic with continued limited tonnage availability the main driving force. Late improvements were seen for owners on the Continent, with a 38,000-dwt opening prompt in Rotterdam fixing for a trip to the Eastern Mediterranean with an intended cargo of scrap at US$27,000. The US Gulf similarly saw further improvements this week with a 39,000-dwt fixing from Panama City to the UK-Continent with an intended cargo of wood pellets at US$30,000. Prompt vessels in the South Atlantic were in high demand and brokers spoke of more voyage requirements for Far East and WC South America destinations, with a 37,000-dwt opening in Praia Mole was fixed for a trip basis delivery Recalada to WC South America with an intended cargo of grains at US$45,000 to a grain house. In Asia, the market was more subdued in terms of visible activity and levels remained stable, with a 43,000-dwt fixed from Indonesia to China with coal in the mid US$13,000s.
LRs in the MEG saw freight climb for the second week with plenty of activity working the balance of 2023 cargoes this week. The 75Kt MEG/Japan TC1 index gained another 18.61 points to end up at WS149.44. The 90kt MEG/UK-Continent TC20 run to the UK-Continent also hopped up US$562,500 to US$4,156,250.
West of Suez, Mediterranean/East LR2’s on TC15 also optimistically climbed US$283,000 this week to US$3.7 million.
In the MEG, LR1s followed the path of their larger compatriots. The 55kt MEG/Japan index of TC5 jumped up 21.57 points to WS151.88 and the 65kt MEG/UK-Continent on TC8 ascended to the tune of US$285,000 to US$3.14 million.
On the UK-Continent, the 60Kt ARA/West Africa TC16 index held stable with and incremental 5.31 point climb to WS203.75.
MRs in the MEG looked to have peaked early this week at around the WS243 mark for a TC17 run the index has since dipped back down to WS234.29.
UK-Continent MR’s were muted early this week and the Baltic indices both began to drop, although by differing amounts. The 37kt ARA/US-Atlantic coast of TC2 bottomed out around WS190 and following some activity later in the week has since rebounded up to WS197 at time of writing. On a TC19 run (37kt ARA/West Africa) the index held stable in the mid-WS230’s.
The USG MRs took a significant downturn this week as we understand fewer cargoes and the tonnage list replenishing with vessels played a significant role. TC14 (38kt US-Gulf/UK-Continent) shed just under 20% of its value losing 53 points to WS214.29. The 38kt US Gulf/Brazil on TC18 similarly came off from WS374.64 to WS310.71. A 38kt US-Gulf/Caribbean TC21 trip dropped US$496,428 to US$1.29 million, more than quarter of its value.
The MR Atlantic Triangulation Basket TCE went from US$57,987 to US$48,387.
In the Mediterranean, Handymax’s held resolute all week around the WS265 level.
Up in northwest Europe, the TC23 30kt Cross UK-Continent had another upturn this week, with the index hopping up 25 points to WS240.83.
The market lost ground this week across the whole sector. For the 270,000 mt Middle East Gulf to China route, the rate devalued about 10 points to WS55.92, which shows a corresponding daily round-trip TCE of US$35,716 basis the Baltic Exchange’s vessel description. The 280,000 mt Middle East Gulf to US Gulf trip (via the cape/cape routing) is now assessed three points lower than a week ago at the WS32 level.
In the Atlantic market, the rate for 260,000 mt West Africa/China dropped nine points to WS56.50 (which shows a round voyage TCE of US$37,172/day), while the rate for 270,000 mt US Gulf/China plummeted US$1,133,333 to US$8,127,778 (which translates to a round-trip TCE of US$33,662/day).
Suezmaxes in West Africa fell back this week, with assessments for 130,000 mt Nigeria/UK Continent route dropping four points to WS97.18 (a daily round-trip TCE of US$37,756). In the Mediterranean and Black Sea region, the 135,000 mt CPC/Med route eased off three points to WS131.50 (showing a daily TCE of US$61,032 round-trip). In the Middle East, the rate for 140,000 mt Middle East Gulf to the Mediterranean recovered a point to a shade above WS68.
In the North Sea, the rate for the 80,000 mt Cross-UK Continent route slackened off another four points to WS136.07 (showing a round-trip daily TCE of US$40,925 basis Hound Point to Wilhelmshaven). In the Mediterranean market the rate for 80,000 mt Cross-Mediterranean softened by six points to WS120.75 (basis Ceyhan to Lavera, showing a daily round trip TCE of US$27,627).
On the other side of the Atlantic, the market has almost steadied. The rate for 70,000 mt East Coast Mexico/US Gulf (TD26) has slipped one point to WS132.50 (a daily round-trip TCE of US$27,365) and the 70,000 mt Covenas/US Gulf rate eased two points to WS127.5 (a round-trip TCE of US$24,842/day). The rate for the trans-Atlantic route of 70,000 mt US Gulf/UK Continent conversely climbed five points to WS156.25 (a round trip TCE basis Houston/Rotterdam of US$37,881/day).
We have published the first BLNG 174 index following a short trial period. The new index will run alongside the existing BLNG 160 and shall be published twice weekly on a Tuesday and Friday. It follows consultation with the market, and members of the Baltic Exchange in response to shifting market patterns, as well as the need to remain current with market trends and vessel types.
The rates themselves moved negatively once again, unlike last year where rates were high and demand strong major players have been taking coverage for many weeks and have little to no short-term enquiry to cover unexpected cargo. A few bits of private business have been quoted in the Atlantic for January but a disparity of rate ideas has caused levels to soften.
For BLNG1g (known as BLNG1-174g for the new ship) Aus-Japan the 160cbm fell by around US$13,000 to close at US$100,754 while the 174cbm fell by the same amount to close at US$122,273. BLNG2g US-Cont (titled BLNG2-174g for our new index) lost less and closed at US$133,037 and US$160,878 respectively on the 160cbm and 174cbm. Finally the BLNG3g (BLNG3-174g) finished at US$132,791 and US$159,990 for the 160cbm and 174cbm, respectively.
In terms of rates there isn’t much to report, the BLPG1 route from Ras Tanura-Chiba shifted less than 50cents on the week to close at US$119.571 where it regained some of the loss seen mid-week, which fell as low as US$111. Tonnage availability seems to have suggested that rates would fall further but a flurry of cargoes shown at week close pushed sentiment higher. More ships are of course routing via the Suez Canal now which has inflated the lists somewhat but it is generally status quo at the moment.
For the Atlantic routes, modest gains on the back of enquiry brokers explain are coupled with tonnage that could be taken out in the MEG so the list is perhaps not as plentiful as expected. The news that Maersk are now proposing that none of their vessel’s transit via the Suez (without prior authorisation) after a recent shooting on one of their ships pushes the canal situation from Panama into further array. Other owners may follow suit and tonne miles could be shooting up with vessels now transiting via the Cape of Good Hope. Rates for BLPG2 Houston-Flushing hovered around the week close of US$111.4, giving a daily TCE earning of US$133,454. While BLPG3 Houston-Chiba (notably the Baltic routing still requires this rate given via the Panama) at US$206.143 a rise of US$9.286 and a daily TCE earning equivalent of US$123.259.