Freight rates for large capesize dry cargo ships on key Asian routes will slide further next week in a lacklustre chartering market ahead of Christmas, ship brokers said.
“The market is pretty dead,” a Shanghai-based capesize broker said on Thursday, adding that: “It is hard to find the ship owner’s person in-charge of chartering. They have either left for the holidays or will leave soon.”
Australian miner Rio Tinto was seen putting pressure on charter rates on Thursday, offering $4.80 per tonne for four capesize cargoes – nearly 30 cents per tonne, or 5.5 percent, lower than the benchmark rate at Wednesday’s close, a Singapore-based capesize broker said.
“Vale is sniffing around with cargoes for January-loading,” the broker said.
While some ship owners were resisting charterers’ attempts to push rates significantly lower, “the market is definitely softer,” said the broker, adding that: “Fundamentally there is no real support – it is pretty painful.”
There were 16 capesize charters fixed for the week to Wednesday, chartering data on the Reuters Eikon terminal showed. That compares with around 22-30 cargoes for the previous weeks.
Most of the fixtures were by vessel operators who rechartered ships held on long-term charter from other owners. Meanwhile, miners Vale, Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton chartered just one or two vessels each. Fortescue Metals Group was absent.
“Despite the slower activity and the lower rates, the market is not yet collapsing as we have seen during previous low seasons,” Norwegian broker Fearnley said in a note on Wednesday.
Charter rates from Western Australia to China slipped to $5.08 per tonne on Wednesday, the lowest since Nov. 2, from $5.94 per tonne a week ago.
Freight rates from Brazil to China fell to $10.39 per tonne, close to the lowest since Oct. 27, from $12.17 per tonne a week earlier.
Charter rates for smaller panamax vessels for a north Pacific round-trip voyage dropped to $7,362 per day on Wednesday from $8,637 per day last week.
Freight rates for panamax and smaller supramax vessels could get some support from bumper wheat crops in Australia and Argentina next year.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture has forecast Australia and Argentina’s wheat production to increase by 15.5 percent and 27 percent to 28.3 million tonnes and 14.4 million tonnes respectively, in 2016/17.
“Supplies from both countries are likely to enter the market in early 2017 when wheat harvesting ends,” ship broker Banchero Costa said in a report this week.
Rates in the Far East for supramax vessels were around $7,800 per day for coal shipments from Indonesia to China and $8,200 per day for coal cargoes from India to China, brokers said.
The Baltic Exchange’s main sea freight index dropped to 1,003 on Wednesday from 1,162 a week ago.
Source: ReutersPrevious Next
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