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After the dramatic fall in rates during the holiday period, the first full day saw sharp drops in the BCI but then swiftly regained some ground as the first week of new year closed out.
The key West Australia/China rate dropped to $5.30 end 2017, it touched $7.00 last week and then eased back to the upper $6.00s.
The focus in the east was on voyage with timecharter activity limited and rates struggling to reach the mid-teens.
Period interest was there last week with a well described 179,700-tonner booked for about 12 months trading with east coast India delivery to a major charterer at $20,000 daily.
The biggest swing in rates was seen in the Atlantic with tonnage tight. The Puerto Bolivar/ Rotterdam route registered a one US dollar gain in 24 hours with the rate hitting the mid $11.00 but with talk that timecharter business was done showing higher equivalents.
A 175,800-tonner 2011-built open northwest Europe fixed on this run at $25,000 daily while Vale covered a 16-25 January cargo from Ponta Da Madeira to Taranto on voyage basis, with some suggesting the timecharter equivalent was over $30,000 daily.
Activity from Brazil slowly increased with the Tubarao/Qingdao rate hovering around $17.00 to $17.50.
The year began slowly with a portion of the market on extended holidays but as the week progressed the amount of activity began to improve and Thursday saw the first positive Index since the 13 December 2017.
The FFA market lead the way showing a sharp increase in the early trade and throughout the week there has been a healthy amount of period interest with rates maintained at pre-Christmas levels in the $12,000s for a short period kamsarmax.
In the Atlantic, rates have improved for fronthaul business especially from the US Gulf, due to increased grain demand, with a 2010-built 82,000-tonner fixed from the Continent via the US Gulf and the Cape of Good Hope to the east with grains at $19,000 daily.
Demand also increased from east coast South America the market remained flatter. Transatlantic rates also improved slightly and sentiment is positive.
The Pacific had a far more sluggish beginning, the limited concluded trades showed weaker rates and early tonnage under pressure.
Thursday was again a turning point, with sentiment buoyed by the combination of mounting spot market enquiry and the paper market with the week ending on a positive note. A Japan delivery kamsarmax reportedly fixed for a NoPac round at $11,500 daily.
After the widespread holidays it was a slow start, with activity slowly increasing without specific direction.
There was little reported on the period front although a 58,000-dwt was fixed basis delivery north China prompt for three to five months trading, redelivery worldwide at $9,500.
Some brokers reported more interest in this sector as the week closed out but few confirmed fixtures.
The Atlantic was generally quiet with rates from the US Gulf remaining flat and little fresh enquiry from east coast South America with owners struggling to fix at last done.
Over the festive period a 58,000-dwt was reported fixed basis delivery Gibraltar via US Gulf to China at $14,000 daily. From the Mediterranean negative pressure was seen.
A 64,000-dwt fixed delivery Gibraltar trip via Jorf Lasfar redelivery in the US Gulf at $7,500 daily and a 63,000-dwt was reported fixed delivery Canakkale prompt trip via Black Sea redelivery Singapore - Japan in the mid $16,000s.
The Asian sector saw increased activity but tonnage kept supply kept pace. A 56,000-dwt was fixed delivery Busan for a trip to India at $7,000 and a 57,000-dwt did a China trip via Indonesia redelivery Vietnam at $6,500.
A difficult start in the Handy sector, with negative sentiment across most routes. Only a trickle of information coming to light as participants awaited clear direction.
Brokers reported an easing in rates for transatlantic runs but there was little activity.
The usual grain movements from the Continent to Mediterranean continued with 30,000/5 wheat from Rouen to Algeria covered at an easier $18.00 pmt basis 10,000 Shex load and 2500 Fhex discharge.
A 33,000-dwt open east Mediterranean was fixed for two to three laden legs with various Atlantic redelivery ranges but no more details were known.
The Asian markets saw a little more activity, a 39,000-dwt being covered basis delivery CJK for a trip redelivery Singapore in the very low $7,000s.
A 28,800-dwt Imabari was reported fixed basis delivery Singapore for a trip via west Australia redelivery Singapore-Japan at an easier $7,000.
The market in the Middle East Gulf has remained under pressure since the start of the year.
Rates for 270,000 tonnes going to China are hovering around WS 43 while going west, options cargoes which tend to pay a premium have been fixed at WS 22.5 region cape/cape basis 280,000 size.
Chevron subsequently fixed a straight US Gulf discharge at WS 20 level. West Africa to China has moved in tandem here with the market sitting at around WS 44 basis 260,000 tonnes cargo.
Hyundai fixed an EC Mexico/Singapore-South Korea trip at $3.4-4.4 million respectively, while Reliance paid $3 million also for Caribs to WC India.
West Africa has seen tonnage building and rates have accordingly weakened with the market for 130,000 tonnes to Europe at around WS 60/61 level.
In the Black Sea, Transway are said to have paid WS 70 to UKC-Med on 140,000 tonnes cargo.
Going east from the Med, Unipec paid $2.4 million for Sidi Kerir/Ningbo while Valero took Gladiator for 130,000 tonnes from Algeria/USG-UKC at WS 57.5-70 respectively.
The market for 80,000 tonnes cross Med has been active with rates now nudging WS 90 region with Black Sea paying close to WS 95. Rates for 100,000 tonnes from Baltic to UKC have been steady at WS 67.5 while cross North Sea rates for 80,000 tonnes held at around WS 100.
A slow week in the 70,000 tonnes Caribbean/up coast trade with healthy tonnage availability saw rates slide to WS 105.
The Caribs up coast market has weakened considerably to WS 140 level, leading tonnage to look at ballasting across and rates for 55,000 tonnes from ARA or Skida have come under downward pressure to settle at around WS 102.5.
A slow start to the year has seen the market weakening with 75,000 tonnes from Middle East Gulf/Japan paying around 82.5, while LR1s in the 55,000 tonnes Middle East Gulf/Japan trade have lost almost four points to sit now at around WS 96.25 region.
An active week in the 37,000 tonnes Cont/USAC trade saw rates gain five points to WS 155 but sheer volume of tonnage is preventing owners from making more headway.
The 38,000 tonnes backhaul trade from US Gulf/UKCont saw an active week with rates up 10 points to WS 130, though this is understood to have been for Caribs load.
This report is produced by the Baltic Exchange.
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