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A strong end to the week with weather delays in China combined with stronger iron ore prices boosting activity.
All the Australian miners put in an appearance, taking several ships for loading within the 1-10 December time frame, with the West Australia/China ending the week at the high for the year at over US$9.00.
Timecharter rates were over US$20,000 daily for ships loading mid-China for west Australian round voyages.
Brazil activity was largely opaque for most of the week, but finished strongly with Oldendorff fixing a 15 December cancelling 170,000-tonne 10% cargo from Tubarao to Qingdao at US$18.65 and one at 18.60 for 25 December cancelling.
An earlier 181,000-tonner in ballast reportedly went on timecharter at a firmer rate but little detail surfaced.
North Atlantic rates also firmed, with timecharter rates hitting the upper US$20,000 daily for transatlantic rounds with a fuel-economical 179,000-tonner allegedly paid US$28,500 daily.
Tonnage remained tight in the Atlantic and at least one charterer took two panamaxes rather than a capesize, to move a cargo from Nouadhibou to Rotterdam, with talk that some were looking at splitting cargoes from Colombia to the Continent but there were few to move on this run.
Front haul rates also held and a 181,000-tonner fixed from Gijon for a minimum 70-day at US$34,700 daily.
After a slow start, the Atlantic eventually saw improved volume mainly due to transatlantic mineral trades, and towards the end of the week talk of charterers trying to split cape cargoes added to improved sentiment.
Rates were slightly higher but with a lacklustre US grains market it has been positional and limited to inter Atlantic trades only.
East coast South America remained quiet and this was reflected by a drop in rates, to close to US$14,000 daily, plus US$400,000 ballast bonus for kamsarmaxes for trips back to the East.
The Pacific saw a steady increase in activity throughout the week, despite a holiday in Japan on Thursday, however rates could be best described as flat.
The South firmed due to Indonesian and Australian coal volumes and a tightening of available tonnage, but this was off-set by the plentiful tonnage open in the north.
Renewed optimism was driven by significant cape market gains and period interest was evident, although owners largely resisted the levels on offer.
The Baltic Supramax Index (BSI) overall made gains this week despite a few areas trading sideways.
More positive sentiment was seen across Asian routes and in the Atlantic, better numbers were evident from the Gulf and a touch more activity further south.
Period activity remained under the radar but a Tess 58 open Arabian Gulf, was rumoured covered for short period on private terms.
In the Atlantic, from the Continent this week, a 61,000-dwt 2017-built open Ghent fixed trip to the eastern Mediterranean at US$13,800 daily with scrap and a 63,000-dwt 2015-built open Iceland was covered for a trip via Murmansk with coal to the east Mediterranean at approximately US$14,000 daily.
In the Black Sea, a 54,000-dwt was fixed for a trip to West Africa at US$12,500 daily.
From the US Gulf area, a 63,000 was fixed delivery north coast South America trip redelivery Chile at US$24,000 daily.
From east coast South America, a 61,300-dwt 2014-built was booked basis Rio Grande to the Continent at US$16,000 daily, option redelivery Mediterranean at US$16,500 daily.
Asian markets activity levels increased. A 63,000-dwt 2016-built was fixed basis delivery Bintulu trip via Indonesia redelivery China at US$11,500 daily and a 57,000-dwt 2012-built was linked to a trip delivery Cebu redelivery west coast India at US$9,500 daily.
Limited activity in the Indian Ocean, a 56,500-dwt 2012-built was covered delivery Nacala, trip redelivery United Arab Emirates at US$11,000 daily plus US$125,000 ballast bonus.
Brokers hope that the momentum will continue.
The handy market struggled and lost ground again this week. Limited activity particularly with the US holiday at the end of the week and little reported.
The Pacific market continued to slip further.
A two to three laden-leg within the Atlantic was rumoured at US$8,600 daily delivery Morocco on a 32,000-dwt 1997-built, while from the Black Sea/Mediterranean area, a 37,000-dwt 2017-built was fixed to west Africa at US$12,250 daily delivery Canakkale.
A 28,000-dwt, 2009-built and a 35,000-dwt 2012-built were fixed at US$10,000 daily for a steel trip to Damietta and US$9,500 daily to Algeria both delivery Canakkale to run via the Black Sea.
A 35,000-dwt 2013-built was booked at a rate in the mid-high US$13,000s, delivery Recalada for a trip to north Brazil.
Limited demand saw Middle East Gulf rates for 270,000 tonnes under renewed downward pressure, with 2011 built tonnage agreeing WS 62.5 to South Korea and China rates dropping five points to WS 64.5 region basis 270,000 tonnes.
Chevron earlier fixed 280,000 tonnes to US Gulf at WS 29 cape/cape but rates have since softened to WS 26.5 level.
West Africa/China eased three points, in line with the Middle East Gulf market, to WS 66.5 basis 260,000 tonnes cargo.
Crude from Skaw to South Korea was fixed at US$4.975 million, while fuel from Rotterdam to Singapore went at US$3.6 million.
An EC Mexico and US gulf load to South Korea was covered at US$5.2 million.
Owners remained positive and rates in West Africa were steady between WS 77.5 and WS 80, with a replacement cargo fixed reportedly at WS 82.5.
Black Sea /Med rates for 135,000 tonnes held at WS 85.
In the Mediterranean, Centrofin tonnage went to IOC at US$1.99 million for a Ceyhan/Chennai run.
A disappointing week for owners, as rates for 80,000 tonnes in the Mediterranean dipped below WS 100, with an attractive Algeria/Trieste trip fixed at WS 90.
The softening here led Black Sea rates to drop 15 points to WS 107.5.
In the Baltic, significant activity enabled owners to push rates up around 17 points to WS 90 basis100,000 tonnes and rates in the 80,000 tonnes cross North Sea trade followed suit up 12.5 points to WS 110 region.
Thanksgiving holidays in the US led to a flurry of enquiry in the 70,000 tonnes Caribbean/up coast trade, with the market now at WS 145 representing a 32.5 WS point gain over the week.
An uneventful week with rates for 55,000 tonnes from ARA and Skikda to US Gulf maintained at WS 115.
The market for 75000 tonnes from Middle East Gulf/Japan eased 2.5 points to WS 120 with 55,000 tonnes hovering at WS 130 region up two points from a week ago.
After a steady week in the 37,000 tonnes Cont/USAC trade a report emerged of WS 135 agreed up 10 points.
Rates for 38,000-tonnes from US Gulf to UKCont held in the mid/high WS 130s.
New BDI Proposal
The Baltic Exchange is undertaking a consultation to change the composition of the Baltic Dry Index (BDI).
Following an analysis of trade flows and vessel utilisation, it is clear that the current composition of the BDI is not a true representation of the volumes of cargo being carried by each vessel sector.
The proposed contributing timecharter averages to the BDI will be: 40 per cent capesize, 30 per cent panamax and 30 per cent supramax.
The intention is to apply the above change on 2 January 2018.
This report is produced by the Baltic Exchange.
The Baltic Exchange, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Singapore Exchange, is the world's only independent source of maritime market information for the trading and settlement of physical and derivative contracts.
Its international community of over 650 members encompasses the majority of world shipping interests and commits to a code of business conduct overseen by the Baltic.
For daily freight market reports and assessments, please visit www.balticexchange.com.