Rates for capesize bulk carriers on key Asian routes are set to slide next week as too many ships chase too few cargoes from Australia and Brazil, brokers said. There are around 32 capesize ships in ballast and currently available for charter, with another 72 ships becoming free in the next two weeks, a Singapore-based capesize broker told Reuters on Thursday.
By comparison 24 capesize ships were fixed on charter for the week up to Wednesday, Reuters shipping data showed.
“I think the capesize market will be slightly softer. It’s had its rally but it was shortlived,” the broker said. Freight rates for a voyage from Brazil to China hit $23.20 a tonne on Tuesday, the highest level since April 2, after Brazilian iron ore miner Vale chartered several ships. Charter rates for a voyage from Western Australia to China climbed to $8.26 per tonne, the highest since June 10, following a raft of fixtures by miners such as Fortescue Metals Group.
Rates for the Western Australia-China route closed at $8.26 per tonne on Wednesday, although the last concluded fixture was lower at $8.08 per tonne. Freight rates for the Brazil-China route closed at $23.20 per tonne on Wednesday, with the last fixture lower at $22.80.
“I don’t see any reason why charterers will pay a premium over the index,” the Singapore broker said. After weeks of steady decline, rates in the Pacific for smaller panamax vessels started to rise this week although brokers are uncertain if the resurgence will continue next week. “There is a dearth of tonnage that can be chartered quickly which has caused quite an aggressive upswing in charter rates,” said one Singapore-based panamax broker.
Rates for a north Pacific (Nopac) round trip voyage are currently about $6,000 per day, more than a third higher than the Baltic Nopac index level. “There are not as many prompt ships available as there were and there’s still a fair amount of cargo. But I just find it difficult to read the market…to predict what’s going to happen short-term,” the broker said. Rates for a panamax transpacific voyage closed at $3,566 per day on Wednesday, while the last concluded fixture was higher at $4,050. Rates have rebounded since June 27 when they bottomed at $3,236 per day following a steady decline from $8,031 per day on May 20.
Owners and charterers of supramax vessels are engaged in a wait and see game, Norwegian broker Fearnley said in a weekly note on Wednesday. “We do see some more cargoes, and an underlying positive tone makes us believe that the bottom is achieved, at least for now,” the broker said. Voyage rates from Singapore via Indonesia to India are around $11,500 per day, Fearnley said. The Baltic Exchange’s main sea freight index closed at 890 on Wednesday, up from 846 a week earlier. Technical analysis showed the index seems to have found support at 847 and may hover above this level or rebound to 995 in a week.