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Dry bulk freight rates to rise during the second half of 2014, as China …

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In its latest analysis of the dry bulk market, BIMCO said that it doesn t expect freight rates to react significantly to increased demand before China starts taking more iron ore from Brazil, most likely during the second half of the year,. As a result, BIMCO said that our forecast for June/July: BIMCO believes that the level of Capesize TC average rates will stay around USD 12,000- 22,000 per day. Panamax TC average rates will feel the supply pressure and stay around USD 4,000-9,000 per day. For the Supramax segment, BIMCO forecasts freight rates in the USD 7,000-12,000 per day interval, whereas Handysize freight rates are expected around USD 6,000-8,500 per day.

According to the market outlook, a trend has been developing over some years now and going forward, more of the same is expected. This trend is a continued Asia-biased dry bulk market, where China is completely dominant, dwarfing the slow but steady Indian import growth, while the rest of the world only grows imports slowly. Moreover, the trend in commodities became increasingly focused on coal and iron ore trades that are taking an even larger share of the pie going forward. This trend favours the larger bulkers. As the big mines in Australia and Brazil have scaled up iron ore output significantly in 2014 and will do so in the coming two years, the price of the commodity has been under pressure.

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Such a development should benefit international trading at the expense of China s higher-cost, domestically-produced iron ore of poorer quality. Is that what is happening? Yes and no. China has increased its iron ore imports significantly (up by 21% in the first four months of 2014 from a year on) as good merchants buy at the right price, but domestic production keeps up (so far) despite the obvious cost pressure. They are doing so at a very steady level seen during the past 5 years. Conclusion: Don t expect China to become 100% reliant on imports while enjoying the lower market price. The current iron ore price is around USD 90 per ton, down from 130-140 per ton in H2-2013 , BIMCO noted.

According to BIMCO s Chief Shipping Analyst, Mr. Peter Sand, the first half of 2013 was a low and flat freight rate environment, so in that sense so much more has happened in 2014. Normally, volatility is good for operators, but when the past two months have been flat,there is only some comfort in knowing that the year-to-date BDI average is up by 51% (end-May). Below the surface, Capesize earnings are up by 158% to USD 14,504 per day, Panamaxes up by 22% (to USD 9,208 per day), Supramaxes up by 28% (to USD 10,906 perday) and Handysizes up by 26% (to USD 9,181 per day), he noted.

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Supply wise, BIMCO s report said that the dry bulk fleet has grown by another 121 ships in the past two months (0.9% in DWT). The expansion has been easy in the Capesize segment, with only 10 new deliveries, as compared to roughly 30 new ships flowing into each of the other three sub-segments. For the full year, our estimates have been slightly upwardlyadjusted, now to reach 52 million DWT of newbuilt deliveries, meaning that the fleet will grow by 5.3% (up from 49 million DWT).Order-book activity has been slowing down since January. The order book now holds 1,989 ships (163.4 million DWT) for future delivery and is still heavy on the Panamax side. One hundred and nine ships had left the fleet by the end of May 2014, equal to 6.6 million DWT. During the first five months of 2013 no less than 12.2 million DWT left the fleet. BIMCO remains firm on the forecast of 14 million DWT to be sold for demolition for the full year, significantly down from last years 22.2 million DWT. Demolished tonnage is only marginally younger on average this year. With expectations of improved markets just around the corner, BIMCO forecasts lower levels of demolition for the coming years as well , the report noted.

It added that the Handysize fleet started to grow again in April, following nine successive months of contraction. The total Handysize fleet remains shy of the record 89.17 million DWT fleet size in 1985, currently at 87.8 million DWT. BIMCO forecasts the Handysize fleet to grow slowly and thus remain South of the record size in 2014 and potentially in 2015 too.In opposition to this is the Panamax segment, which with little hesitation, sets a new fleet size record every day. Currently growing at 8.7% on a year-on-year basis, standing at 191 million DWT at the end of May, the 200 million DWT fleet size threshold is likely to be reached before year-end , BIMCO said.

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DemandDemand-wise South American grain exports finally got under way. According to BIMCO, the lower export figures from April being only on a par with 2012 illustrates the delayed take-off in shipments. Brazil has been the major exporter during Q2, while Argentina delivered more steadily throughout Q2 and Q3. Ship broking company SSY expects a combined 35.8 million tons (mt) of soya exports in Q2, with 30.8 mt in Q3. The strength of the current upturn depends on Asia s appetite, as all growth stems from that region. The Atlantic basin has been awash with ships during most of 2014, putting downward pressure on freight rates for Panamax and Supramax ships in particular. Freight rates for a trans-Atlantic round-voyage, which were hitting a three-year high by mid-December 2013 (USD 20,500 per day), subsequently experienced four straight months of losses to hit USD 2,500 per day for Panamaxes. Since mid-April, Panamaxes have tripled earnings on the back of demand, finally meeting expectations. Supramax ships are still in the doldrums, failing to follow suit with big brother so far. The optimism built up in H2-2013 has all but evaporated. BIMCO still expects stronger earnings as we enter into H2-2014, but the world fleet is capable of catering to a much higher level of demand than it does today. This is what makes the road forward full of air pockets, with owners and operators trying to hit the optimum speed in a quest to utilise their ships better , BIMCO concluded.Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide



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