Dry bulk market edges higher on stronger demand
The dry bulk market managed to inch higher by the end of the week as brokers indicated that stronger cargo demand pushed freight rates that much higher. The Baltic Dry Index move forward to surpass the 3,000-point once again and end the week at 3,009 points. According to Weberseas" latest weekly report ?improving rates are pushing the indices upwards albeit at a steadier pace. All the market indices have finished the week positively with increases between 1-4%? said the report.
It further added that no doubt there is solid demand from China and coupled with the continued congestion around the world's main loading/discharging ports we are seeing a supply/demand imbalance. ?Worldwide congestion currently stands at around 31 million deadweight. Australia and Brazil are accounting for about one third of this. At Australia's loading ports there are 5.7 million deadweight of ships waiting (half of which are panamax bulkers with 40 odd of these ships stuck in waiting). The figure is slightly less in Brazil at 4.7 mill deadweight? said Weberseas.
As the talks continue between the Chinese steel mills and the major mining producers (BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and Vale) more and more of the Chinese importation is done via spot fixtures from other areas with India getting the lion's share. This means that supramax and panamax bulkers are benefiting and presently experiencing strong freight numbers. Panamax bulkers seem to be benefiting the most at the moment from the congestion and we are seeing the BPI standing at a 25% premium over the BCI (4,034 and 3,071 respectively). Both the supramax and panamax segments have also been assisted by the good grain trading volumes.
But brokers remained cautious, as their primary concern is the fact that rising iron ore prices could hurt demand and hit cargo activity. Iron ore prices in Asia were rising throughout the week, continuing a rally that started last month, with high grade ores at their highest since August 2008, Reuters said in a report, adding that China has been buying Indian iron ore, shipped using supramaxes, bolstering rates on the smaller vessel market.
Analysts from Commodore Research indicated in another update on Chinese commodity demand that China"s restrictions on iron ore imports have forced spot ore prices to increase sharply. Chinese iron ore fixtures have remained relatively firm this week, ore fixtures were very low yesterday and on Monday - but today they have increased. Chinese ore demand continues to remain firm, and, so far, importers are not truly heading a call to boycott Australian and Brazilian iron ore. Spot Indian iron ore prices have increased to approximately $146/ton FOB, an increase of $22 (18%) from April 5.
Omar Nokta of Dahlman Rose stated that if the quoted Vale price is accurate, the dry bulk market could see significant upside in the coming weeks, as $100 would represent a significant discount to current spot prices. "With more stability and increased visibility into iron ore pricing, the dry bulk market can begin to better reflect the stronger environment across the global industrial complex", Nokta said.