A switch to the Atlantic with rates firming as charterers seemed keen to fix and tonnage was tight, prompting a recovery in rates. Transatlantic coal runs were paying near the mid-teens for standard capes with rates tipping over US$9.00 for the Colombia/Continent coal run. Charterers with INL breach cargoes had to pay a hefty premium with a cargo booked from Port Cartier to Rotterdam at US$9.30. Brazil/China activity also increased, absorbing the ballasters with a 10-19 March 170,000-tonne 10% cargo fixed from Tubarao to Qingdao at US$16.75. In the east, miners were slow to show their hands but Rio Tinto continued to absorb tonnage fixing in the mid-US$6.00s with rates largely flat but there was talk as the week closed out that an operator fixed an end February cargo at US$6.80 but this was denied. Timecharter rates improved slowly with well-described 180,000 tonners open mid-China fixing around US$14,500 daily. Period interest was maintained with sentiment seemingly still positive going forward.
With limited fresh enquiry in all areas, spot market rates drifted lower throughout the week. Conversely period rates remained strong with a modern kamsarmax open South China fixed for five to seven months at US$14,000, with ongoing interest from charterers to take forward cover despite the nearby market being fragile leaving the gap between spot and period unusually wide. In the Pacific, the smaller sizes came under the most pressure and hopes of a pre Chinese New Year rush failed to materialize with only Indonesia seeing a good volume of fixing. Owners also began to concede lower levels as the east coast South America market looked less attractive, with the large number of ballasters beginning to impact on rates there and fixing now predominantly on an aps basis. The Atlantic market remained relatively slow all week, again early vessels struggled to cover with little fresh business appearing. Last Monday, a modern 78,000-dwt vessel was reported on subjects at US$11,750 for an Atlantic round voyage but subsequently failed, only to re-fix towards the end of the week at around US$9,500 to US$9,750 for similar business.
With the run up to the Chinese New Year celebrations, the past few days have seen routes across the board losing ground. Very little period activity was reported but a 63,300-dwt was fixed basis delivery Singapore four to six months trading redelivery worldwide at US$12,250 daily.
The Atlantic struggled in many areas and brokers advised that a build-up of tonnage from east coast South America and little fresh enquiry from US Gulf lead to a fall in rates. A 58,000-dwt was reported fixed delivery South West Pass for a trip to the Mediterranean at US$18,000 and later in the week an ultramax was reported to have fixed at similar levels again for a trip to the Mediterranean. Very little was seen from the Continent although a 63,000 was fixed for a scrap run to Turkey at US$12,000.
The Asia market also saw a sluggish week. A 52,000-dwt was fixed basis delivery Hibikinada for a trip to west coast India at US$6,500. A 58,000-dwt went for delivery Cebu for a trip via Indonesia redelivery India at US$11,250. A 56,700-dwt open Singapore 10 Feb was booked for a trip via Indonesia redelivery south China US$9,500. It remains to be seen what further impact of the Chinese festivities will have on the market.
In the last week before the Chinese New Year the market tended to slow as expected. Brokers suggested there had been a lack of fresh cargo in both the Atlantic and Pacific market with negative sentiment on both small and large-sized handy vessels. Period fixtures reported from the east remained sketchy, including a two laden leg trip paying US$9,000 daily on a 33,000-dwt basis Zhoushan delivery and worldwide redelivery.
A 32,000-dwt open Rotterdam was booked to move scrap cargo to the east Mediterranean at US$8,000 daily. Another similar-sized open Canakkale was fixed for a trip to the Continent-ARA-Ghent range at approximately UUS$8,000 daily. Steel trips paid US$7,000 to US$8,000 daily on vessels open CJK to redeliver in Southeast Asia.