Dry Cargo

Capesize rates continue ascent

Cape rates continue to push higher, even if FFA traders took some fright over the past 24 hours.

The Baltic Exchange’s capesize index went above 10,000 points for the first time in more than 13 years yesterday as port congestion and heightened demand for swift shipments of iron ore and coal pushed the index up 7.4%.

Average daily earnings for capesizes have now doubled in the space of a month to stand at above $86,000 a day with some voyages this week reported in excess of $110,000 a day, rekindling memories of dry bulk’s last great bull run from 2003 to 2008.

“The massive push has come from an impressive increase in the Atlantic basin and backhaul segment. This is highly correlated with the massive backwardation in FFA curve encouraging owners to seek longer duration as the forward market is showing a lack of confidence,” Norwegian broker Fearnleys stated in its most recent weekly report.

“It is supposed to be Golden Week, but some people must be working the phone like crazy,” analysts at Lorentzen & Stemoco suggested in a daily update this morning pointing towards Chinese iron ore imports, with the C3 between Tubarao to Qingdao rising by over $2 per ton yesterday and the C5 between West Australia to Qingdao up by almost a dollar per ton.

Data from Signal Ocean (see chart below) shows the number of capesize vessels sailing in ballast dropped to less than 80 ships in the first days of October compared to 138 vessels at the beginning of July.

“The current trend in the availability of capesize ships for sailing in ballast to load reveals that rates may go even higher if the shortage of supply persists week by week,” commented Maria Bertzeletou, a market analyst with Signal Ocean.

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.
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