The market for capesize bulkers made some modest gains over the past week following a month-long tumble from historic highs, but market experts aren’t expecting another huge rally right away. The capesize 5TC, a spot-rate average weighted across five key routes, improved 14% over the past seven days to $31,811 per day on Friday. The jump represented a rebound after the rates plummeted 68% in the four weeks ending 5 November. “Indeed, we have stabilized a bit, but capes will always tend to surprise us,” John Kartsonas, founder of asset-management advisory firm Breakwave Advisors, told TradeWinds.
The spot rate for the round voyage from Brazil to China picked up $95 per day on Friday to come in at $25,368 per day, while the transpacific route lost $300 per day to end up at $33,471 per day. Among Friday’s fixtures, Rio Tinto booked an unnamed 170,000-dwt capesize for a trip from Western Australia to China at $12.70 per tonne. That’s higher than what the mining giant was willing to pay a week earlier, when it agreed to pay $10.80 per tonne for similar voyage.
Breakwave Advisors expects average capesize spot rates to fluctuate about $3,000 per day either way from Friday’s 5TC figure before rallying at the end of November, Kartsonas said. “A lot of things can change in days, but for now this is our base-case scenario,” he said. “This is contrary to the FFA [forward freight agreement] market that expects rates to continue to weaken for the months to come.” The FFA rate for November contracts stood at $29,036 per day on Friday, while December came in at $24,907 per day. The rate for January contracts was $18,300 per day. Spot rates could improve as approaching winter heightens coal demand, but they could also slide as port congestion eases, he said. “The balance of the two will determine the near-term outlook, but for the short term, we remain more constructive,” he said. “We do expect rates to weaken in Q1 though, but still remain higher than historical levels.”
Capesize spot rates should remain relatively even-keeled in the coming weeks amid stabilized commodity prices as rising coal demand and subdued iron-ore trade offset each other, Jefferies analyst Randy Giveans said. “My guess is capesize spot rates will stay above $25,000 per day, and probably above $30,000 per day, throughout the end of the year,” he said. “Dry bulk equities will start catching some bids as investors look past any short-term seasonal dry bulk weakness between now and February.”