The market began to meet increased resistance to the recent slide in rates as the week progressed. With talk of a floor being found to provide some stability, it was heard that forward markets reacted positively. The north Atlantic basin was the big mover this past week with the Transatlantic C8 falling $6,645 week-on-week to settle at $16,605. The Pacific, in contrast, still remains at a heavy discount with the Transpacific C10 closing the week at $7,788. Market cargo activity in the region was relatively low with weather considerations for the West Australian miners early in the week. The West Australia to China C5 largely traded sideways throughout the week to settle at $6.009. Moving into Chinese New Year next week, the market is expected to start quietening down. Most of Asia will have public holidays and are expected to remain at home as Covid-19 restrictions still play out.
The week commenced largely passively in places with little sign of a direction. The North Atlantic was resilient for the most part with sound demand from the Baltic, where breaching INL was required, and the North Americas were assisted by tight tonnage availabilities. From EC South America it was a muted start to the week. But activity picked up a little by Thursday with several rumours emerging, like an 82,000-dwt delivery SE Asia which achieved in the region of $14,500 and others faring better in some cases. The rates in Asia slowly eroded as the week went on with little activity. Sporadic fixing appeared out of north Pacific with nice well-specified types achieving closer to $13,000 levels. However, smaller and less desirable types appeared to discount heavily only adding to the squeeze in rates for much of the week. Period activity was well supported with several deals concluded including an 82,000-dwt agreeing $13,000 for short period.
A mixed bag over the last week, with the Atlantic remaining relatively firm whereas the Asian market saw a drop in activity levels and rates with the upcoming Chinese New Year celebrations on people’s minds. Period activity remained, an Ultramax open China was fixed for a year at $12,500 and for a short period a 56,000-dwt open Indian Ocean fixed four to six months in the mid $14,000s. As the week closed certain areas in the Atlantic saw a tightening of fresh tonnage. A 61,000-dwt open US Gulf fixing a trip to west coast Mexico in the mid $30,000s. Elsewhere, demand was healthy from the Continent as a 56,000-dwt fixed a scrap run to the Mediterranean at $17,250. The lower rates in Asia were reflected by a 56,000-dwt open Singapore fixing a trip via Indonesia to west coast India at $8,750 and a 63,000-dwt open Japan fixing a trip via north Pacific with redelivery Bangladesh at $12,750.
Despite having a slower start than usual, both the BHSI and time charter average climbed further throughout the week. Market participants considered the Skaw-Passero range slightly quiet, but also saw more mid-end February cargoes coming out. A 39,000-dwt open Casablanca was fixed for a trip via France to west Africa at $19,000. The US Gulf was reportedly having a surge since mid-week, with high rates fixed for trips to west coast Central America. In the east, brokers suggested vessels with prompt dates were limited, but there were still cargoes to be covered before Chinese New Year. A 35,000-dwt open in the Arabian Gulf next week was fixed for a trip via the Gulf to Bangladesh at $17,500. A similar-sized vessel open in Bangladesh was fixed for a trip via east coast India to Saldanha Bay at $6,000 for the first 35 days and $10,750 thereafter.