Asia Capesize Rates to Hold Steady
Freight rates for large capesize dry cargo ships on key Asian routes could hold steady around current levels next week in a quiet market, ship brokers said on Thursday.
That came after charter rates cooled this week after hitting their highest in nearly a year on Monday.
Holidays in China and South Korea this week and Japan next will subdue chartering activity, brokers said.
"My guess is the market will be very quiet," said a Shanghai-based capesize broker.
Rates for capesize ships from Western Australia to China will "hopefully stay in the $5 per ton range," said a Singapore-based capesize broker.
Charter rates from Brazil to China could hold around $11 per ton, the Singapore broker said.
"It's been a roller-coaster of a capesize market over the past several months. Now, it has more support - it's steadyish," the Singapore broker added.
Major miners, led by Brazil's Vale and including BHP Billiton and Fortescue Metals Group, together with vessel operators reletting ships they had on charter, were all active in the capesize market this week.
"Despite a (downward) correction (in freight rates), we do expect the next months to be slightly positive," Norwegian ship broker Fearnley said in a note on Wednesday.
But high spot coal prices, which have hit $200 per ton in China, are unlikely to lead to an increase in Australian coal output, ANZ said in a note on Thursday, potentially putting a ceiling on rising capesize rates.
Coal and iron ore are the staple cargoes for capesize ships.
"We don't see major exporters raising output immediately. Australian producers are already at capacity and are now being hampered by wet weather," ANZ Research analyst Daniel Hynes said.
Capesize charter rates for the Western Australia-China route fell to $5.07 per ton on Wednesday from $5.64 per ton last Wednesday. They hit $5.86 per ton on September 12, the highest since October 5.
Freight rates from Brazil to China were around $11.25 per ton on Wednesday compared with $11.10 per ton a week earlier. They climbed to $11.72 per ton on September 12, the highest since October 26.
Charter rates for smaller panamax vessels for a north Pacific round-trip voyage rose to $5,499 per day on Wednesday from $5,361 per day the same day last week. They rose to $5,610 per day on September 12, the highest since July 29.
"The seasonal fourth quarter upswing is not in sight, leaving a sluggish sentiment," Fearnley said in the note.
For smaller supramax vessels, freight rates in the Far East held steady at around $6,700-$7,000 per day for coal cargoes from Indonesia to China.
The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index fell to 756 on Wednesday from 773 last week.