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Rates slipped as the week closed out with the Atlantic sharply lower while rates in the east held fairly steady. There remained a few cargoes to be fixed in the Atlantic but more ships appeared and were offering at lower numbers as they sought cover before the holidays.
Transatlantic timecharter rates dropped to the low US$30,000s daily and the front haul number was likely to retreat to nearer the mid US$30,000s daily.
An 180,000-tonne 10% cargo fixed for 3-17 January from Tubarao to Rotterdam at a sharply lower US$11.80. There was talk of a 1-10 January 170,000-tonne 10% cargo fixed from Tubarao to Qingdao at US$19.50 but it was not clear if the business failed.
Rates in the east showed more stability with on-going weather delays disrupting scheduling.
The Australian miners appeared in the market intermittently during the week and although rates briefly hit US$10.00 for West Australia/China they then steadied at around US$9.75-80. Timecharter rates for Australian round voyages were still near the upper US$20,000s daily.
Period trading was in evidence with talk that a Golden Ocean newbuilding or substitute fixed to Bunge for 11 to 13 months trading with delivery from end December possibly through to February in China at US$18,500 daily although some suggested the rate was higher. A 177,000-tonner fixed a short prompt for delivery this month in China at US$21,750.
The market reached a new high for the year with the average of the BPI four-timecharter routes reaching US$13,740 on 13 December, but since then the market slowed noticeably and rates are beginning to soften.
In the Atlantic, short duration mineral traders drove a very short-lived spike in rates with modern kamsarmaxes agreeing US$25,000 daily for Baltic round voyages but the excitement evaporated rather quickly as there was no fresh enquiry to sustain it.
East coast South America has been steady and rates generally at last done levels, whilst a prompt US Gulf to China grain stem was rumoured to have been fixed at US$46.00 per mt.
In the East, a flurry of prompt north Pacific grain cargoes, supported by an active Indonesian market, saw a large proportion of ships covered at the beginning of the week at slightly improved levels but actively tailed off as the week closed out and the market subdued. An active FFA market supported a healthy period enquiry and fixing.
The BSI started last week on a negative note but made gains as week progressed. Limited period activity included a 57,500-dwt being covered for short period with a Scandinavian operator at US$12,000 basis delivery Durban and redelivery Singapore-Japan and a 63,300-dwt open east coast India fixed for three to five months at US$11,250.
The pressure was on in the run up to the holidays in key areas of the Atlantic. From the US Gulf for a trip to the east in the mid US$20,000s. A 63,500-dwt was fixed delivery Mississippi River for a grain run to east coast Mexico at US$21,500.
From the south Atlantic, a tight supply of tonnage supported with a 61,400-dwt fixed delivery Recalada trip redelivery Chittagong at US$15,000 plus US$500,000 ballast bonus.
The Mediterranean-Black Sea region was steady and a 56,000-dwt was covered basis delivery Iskenderun trip redelivery West Africa in the upper US$11,000s and an ultramax fixed for a trip via the Black Sea redelivery Singapore-Japan at US$19,000.
In contrast with a ready supply of tonnage keeping pace with fresh enquiry the Asian routes slipped throughout the week.
A 56,000-dwt was covered delivery Singapore trip via Indonesia redelivery south China in the low US$10,000s. A 52,000-dwt was fixed delivery passing Singapore trip with salt via Australia redelivery Indonesia in the mid US$10,000s.
It was fairly slow last week in the handy sector, with most of the Atlantic routes having improved slightly but eased in the Pacific. For longer duration, a 28,000-dwt 2011-built open Argentina was paid a rate in the low-mid US$11,000s for a two to three laden-leg trip.
A 39,000-dwt 2015-built open Providence was fixed to move coal to the Mediterranean at the mid-high US$15,000s. During the week, a 38,000-dwt 2015-built open Liverpool fixed for scrap cargo via Odense to the Black Sea at US$14,000. A trip with concentrates paid US$14,000 daily on a 34,000-dwt 2016-built delivery Peru to the west coast India-Persian Gulf range.
In the east, a 43,000-dwt 1996-built open Singapore was fixed early in the week for a trip via Indonesia to China at US$8,000.
A 39,000-dwt 2016-built open in the same position was fixed to the Continent at US$6,000 daily for the first 62 days and US$10,500 daily thereafter.
A similar sized open CJK was booked to load steel from north China to west Africa at 7,100 daily.
Improved levels of enquiry saw owners more bullish as charterers sought cover, pre-holidays. Rates for 270,000 tonnes long east were again nudging WS 50 after Taiwan earlier fixed at WS 44.5.
Going west, rates held at around WS 24.5 cape-cape for 280,000 tonnes to US Gulf, whilst options cargoes fixed at WS 26.5.
West Africa to China eased 5.5 points to WS 53.5 before recovering to WS 56 for the East and WS 59 paid for Yingkou discharge which commands a premium especially in the winter.
Crude from US Gulf/Singapore went at US$3.9 million while Caribbs/WC India was fixed at US$3.75 million with rates under downward pressure. Fuel oil from Rotterdam to Singapore fixed at US$3.0 million down around US$600,000 from last done.
Last week was fairly uneventful in West Africa, with rates maintained at WS 90 level for Europe discharge and similarly Black Sea was steady at WS 92.5 for 135,000 tonnes to Mediterranean.
Replacement business from Libya to Sweden was fixed at WS 85 for 130,000 tonnes and a longer Algeria/Singapore run went at US$2.0 million.
A healthy amount of fresh enquiry prompting increase fixing saw rates rise to the low WS 100s for 80,000 tonnes cross Med with the potential for further gains.
Black Sea rates gained 17.5 points to WS 120. Rates for 100,000 tonnes from Baltic to UKC lost five points to WS 67.5 while cross North Sea rates for 80,000 tonnes (excluding Sullom Voe) held at around WS 100.
A slower week in the 70,000 tonnes Caribbean/up coast trade saw improved tonnage availability leading to a 15-point drop to WS 155.
A disappointing week for owners, with a lack of enquiry resulting in more than a 20 point drop with Skikda load fixed at WS 117.5 and ARA now assessed at around WS 115 and remaining under downward pressure.
The status quo was maintained with 75,000 tonnes from Middle East Gulf/Japan steady at WS 110, while LR1s in the 55,000 tonnes Middle East Gulf/Japan trade held in mid/high WS 130s.
An active week in the 37,000 tonnes Cont/USAC trade saw rates gain 10 points to WS 160. The 38,000 tonnes backhaul trade from US Gulf/UKCont firmed 32.5 points to WS 152.5 region.
Duncan Dunn has been elected Chairman of the Baltic Exchange Council with effect from 2 January 2018. Duncan Dunn is a Senior Director at SSY Futures and has served as Baltic Exchange Vice Chairman since 2017.
Pat Donnelly, of Braemar ACM-GFI, has been elected as Chairman of the Tanker FFA Brokers Association, which represents the worldwide community of tanker Forward Freight Agreement (FFA) brokers.
The Baltic Exchange will not publish indices between 25 and 31 December, except for BFA and BOA (options) which will not be published 25-26 December.
This report is produced by the Baltic Exchange. It will take a break and resume in January 2018.
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.