SINGAPORE (REUTERS): Rates for capesize dry bulk carriers on key Asian freight routes are expected to hover near 2011 highs over the next week as a sharp rally begins to fade due to pressure from abundant vessel supplies.
For smaller panamax vessels, rates are seen steady in short-term with support from the capesize market, shipbrokers said on Thursday.
Benchmark capesize fixture rates from Australia to China rose to $11.713 a tonne on Wednesday from $10.688 last week. The market hit a 10-month high of $11.741 on Monday.
“Demand for iron ore and coal in China remains solid, but for how much longer that is uncertain. Shipowners are enjoying the ride while it lasts,” said a Singapore-based shipbroker.
Rates for the Brazil-China route climbed to $28.823 a tonne from $26.477 last week. The market also surged to a 10-month high of $28.864 on Tuesday.
The Baltic Exchange’s main sea freight index rose to its highest in nearly nine months on Wednesday, jumping 1.37 per cent or 26 points to 1,927 points in a fifth session of gains.
Industry experts believed the sharp rally would be short-lived as a flood of new ships offsets strong Asian commodities demand. Khalid Hashim, managing director of Thai-listed Precious Shipping , predicted the BDI index could tumble by nearly half by the end of 2011 to as low as 1,000 points. Technicals indicated the benchmark index would extend its gain to 2,062 in a week, based on its wave pattern and a Fibonacci projection analysis.
“As the capesize market rises to new 2011 highs, the potential for splitting cargoes has emerged as a case for an increase in panamax rates,” said Erik Nikolai Stavseth, analyst at Arctic Securities.
The rate of panamax vessels travelling via the transpacific route rose to a three-month high of $14,190 a day on Wednesday from $13,233 last week.
“With Korea and large parts of China coming off holidays, activity expectedly picked up on Wednesday and further squeezed the amount of spot tonnage available in the Pacific basin,” said broker firm ICAP.
In the supramax market, freight rates for shipments from Australia to Japan and South Korea, two major coal importers, also surged to a three-month high of $12,818 a day from $12,373 last week.
“The Chinese and Koreans returned to the market, which increased activity on both fresh stems and tonnage in the market,” ICAP said.
Rates from the east coast of India to China rose to a two-week high of $11,196 a day from $10,876 last week.