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Capesize freight rates surge for key routes in November

Q4 2016: Dry Bulk Shipping Overview

Q4 2016 - The beginning of the fourth quarter for the Capesize market was relatively lackadaisical, but freight rates surged to a 23-24 month high for several key routes by early part of H2 November.

As commodity prices were also assessed at higher levels around this period, a ship chartering source with a commodity trader said the freight rate, as a component of cost was diminishing, given the increase in the commodity prices.

"Traders would not haggle the last 10 cents on freight and lose the laycan. This is helping the freights [go] higher," the source said.

Market participants had also said the rally in rates could be attributed to the increase bunker prices, higher freight derivative market rates, tighter tonnage supply availability in the Atlantic basin and the strong tonnage demand from West Coast Australia. Some had also ascribed the increase in rates to resistant shipowners who held back their tonnage, which subsequently pushed up the offer levels.

Analysis continues below...

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In the Asia Pacific market, the Port Hedland, Western Australia, to Qingdao, China, key iron ore route was assessed at its lowest on February 4 2016 at $2.85/wmt and its peak at $7.35/wmt on November 17 2016, a level which was not seen since August 6, 2015.

The front haul key iron ore route from Tubarao in Brazil to Qingdao had reached its lowest assessed rate on January 28 2016 at $5.20/wmt and saw its highest in Q4 where it was assessed at 13.95/wmt.

The iron ore route out of South Africa -- the Saldanha Bay to Qingdao 170,000 mt (plus/minus 10%) voyage -- touched its year’s low on January 13 2016 at $4.00/wmt which was its lowest and reached its highest at $11.80/wmt, on November 18 2016.

However, towards the end of Q4, the Capesize market witnessed a fall in the rates due to the year-end holidays. Some sources expected the market would continue to slow and flatten in the lead up to the holidays, while others expected it to remain stable as support could come from the firm bunker price, strong commodity rates and higher cargo volumes.

Next route: Panamax freight rates see better-than-expected Q4

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