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The north Atlantic market came under pressure with rates sharply lower especially for transatlantic business but this too had a knock-on effect for front haul. Owners’ resistance crumbled in the face of very slow trading. On the BCI C7 route, Jera fixed a 10-19 February 160,000-tonne 10% cargo at US$7.70. As the week closed out there was increased Brazil activity, cargoes fixed from Tubarao to Qingdao for February and March positions with rates in the upper US$14.00s for February and in excess of US$15.00 for the first half of March. South Africa fixing was limited to coal from Richards Bay to India where rates ranged from the upper US$8.00s to just over US$9.00 depending on the discharge port. There were ore cargoes to move but seemingly charterers were in no rush to fix. The West Australia market was particularly slow as the week closed out with the miners stalling but Rio Tinto finally covered, securing two ships for 16 February onwards both at an easier US$6.25. Timecharter activity was slow and the period market remained at odds with the spot with charterers still willing to pay steady rates for the longer durations.

The period market seemed limited to shorter durations up to five to seven months this week with the volume of trades waning as the softening spot market lead to charterers only fixing when necessary. However, period rates proved more robust than the spot market with a modern 75,000 dwt fixed at US$13,750 basis delivery Singapore for five to seven months. The transatlantic market remained fairly slow with rates for shorter trips being discounted more as the week progressed and owners looked to reposition hoping the market would find some impetus later. US Gulf grain trade was negligible again this week with front haul cargoes limited to north coast South America and fixed around US$18,000 for LMEs from Gibraltar and the Continent and fewer cargoes fixed from east coast South America as the focus shifts to March stems. Charterers were still fixing vessels on an APS basis for February dates but rates had dropped to US$15,000 plus US$500,000 ballast bonus with good redelivery in south-east Asia on modern kamsarmaxes. In the Pacific, the smaller ships came under pressure with some fixing below US$10,000 for round voyages, and although the larger types fared better, rates slid lower during the course of the week. As it closed out, a kamsarmax reportedly went at US$10,600 for an Australian round voyage with sources suggesting the owner wanted to fix early to avoid the upcoming Chinese New Year – not a positive sign for future activity.

An uninspiring week across the board in most areas. This was reflected in the lack of fresh period activity although a 56,800-dwt was reported delivery Tianjin early February for six to eight months trading at US$10,500.

In the Atlantic, the US Gulf lost ground from previous weeks with a lack of fresh enquiry and a build-up of tonnage. Limited activity from east coast South America with rates trading sideways while the Continent remained flat with limited scrap activity. The Mediterranean held steady and a 56,400-dwt fixed delivery Turkey for a trip via the Black Sea redelivery Egyptian Mediterranean at US$9,000.

Asian routes made ground early in the week but at the end the rates eased. From south-east Asia, a 57,000-dwt reportedly fixed from Singapore via Indonesia redelivery west coast India at US$7,500. Owners looked for a slight premium to trade up to north Asia areas and a 58,700-dwt fixed delivery Singapore trip via Indonesia redelivery China at US$10,500. From the Indian Ocean, there was activity from South Africa where a 53,300-dwt fixed delivery Richards Bay trip Arabian Gulf- west coast India at US$11,250 plus US$140,000 ballast bonus.

A week of continuous falls in the both the Atlantic and Asia markets. Negative sentiment was evident particularly for vessels open east coast South America and US Gulf. Brokers suggested it might take some time to restore confidence in the handy market with little fresh business appearing.

A 38,000-dwt open Texas was fixed US$14,250 daily for a trip to Morocco, and a 33,000-dwt open in the US Gulf was paid at the same level for a similar run with redelivery Algeria. Trips from east coast South America to the Continent were reported to have fixed at US$13,000 daily. For the longer durations, a 33,000-dwt open Gibraltar went for two to three laden legs at US$8,900 daily with redelivery in the Atlantic.

In the East, a small-sized handy vessel was booked from Ho Chi Minh City for a run via Thailand to Bangladesh at a rate in the low US$7,000s.

Source: Hellenic Shipping News.