2024 Dry Bulk Market Starts Muted And Sedated


  • Challenges in the Atlantic market with a tightening tonnage list and bid-offer price gap widening.
  • Panamax market started sedately post-Christmas, with rates under pressure.
  • Bearish outlook with a higher ballast count from Southeast Asia.
  • Reductions in the US Gulf for various routes, including SW Pass to the Black Sea

Pacific Optimism To Uncertainty

A blend of activities and challenges has characterized the capsized market. While the Pacific market initially displayed a somewhat optimistic sentiment with the participation of two active miners after a slow start post-Christmas and New Year break, the introduction of uncertainty emerged with reports of a derailment in Western Australia. This led to an initial decline of around US$1.00 – US$1.20 on C5.

Atlantic Market Struggles

The Atlantic market also faced challenges, with a tightening tonnage list and a widening gap between bid and offer prices. Despite heightened activity in the Pacific on Thursday, the market pressure resulted in a further decline on C5, although there was a feeling that the market was starting to find a floor. This appears to be the case with two miners today having to increase their bid to attract offers, resulting in a slight uptick of approximately 30 cents. In the Atlantic, vessel tightness persisted, particularly for tonnage reaching south Brazil within January dates. Limited activity was observed, but the prevailing tight conditions, coupled with an increase in activity, resulted in positive reports of stronger fixtures, which has maintained a bullish, yet positional, sentiment in the market. Overall, the BCI 5TC has been positive for week 1, which started at US$ 28,896 and closed at US$ 31,497.

Panamax Market Faces Downward Pressure

Following the Christmas holiday, the Panamax market began sedately across the board, followed by rates coming under pressure from the outset. Downward pressure emanated primarily from a build-up of tonnage, unfixed over the festive period but also from a lack of demand in both basins during week 1, forcing cheaper levels to be conceded by owners. Following a softer finish to 2023, a higher ballast count from Southeast Asia only compounded the weaker market. And, with Asia massively unsupported, the immediate outlook appeared extremely bearish; US$13 000 was agreed on a 82 000 DWT delivery to China for a NoPac round trip but such a rate was unrepeatable. From the Atlantic, US$24 000 was agreed on an 85 000 DWT delivery NW Africa for a long-duration trip via the US Gulf into the Arabian Gulf with routing via Cape of Good Hope. Some recent period coverage emerged with reports of an 82 000 DWT delivery in China achieving US$16 250 for one year’s period.

Atlantic Sluggishness Persists

Not surprisingly it was a rather muted start to the New Year after the widespread holidays. The Atlantic remained rather sluggish in the South with limited fresh inquiry appearing and a good amount of prompt tonnage available. Some saw slightly better levels of enquiry from the US Gulf although limited fixing appeared. From Asia, brokers suggested that there was little fresh activity from the NoPac and Australia although there seemed to be a reasonable amount of activity from the South. There was little period action although a 63 000 DWT open China was heard fixed for four to six months trading redelivery Singapore-Japan at US$17 000 with scrubber benefit for charterers. From the Atlantic, a 63 000 DWT was heard fixed delivery US Gulf trip redelivery East Mediterranean at US$26 000. In Asia, a 56 000 DWT fixed delivery Philippines trip via Indonesia redelivery South China at US$12 000. From the Indian Ocean, rates remained fairly healthy, a 64 000 DWT fixing delivery Navalakhi trip via Oman redelivery Chittagong at US$20 000.

Post-Holiday Shifts

After the holidays, the Atlantic market witnessed large corrections on BHSI, with cargo availability limited across the region. On the continent, a 32 000 DWT was fixed basis delivery in Rouen for a trip to Morocco with grains at US$11 000, while in the Mediterranean a 35 000 DWT was fixed from Safi to EC South America at US$7000 and a 38 000 DWT was rumored to have fixed from Alexandria to Bilbao with an intended cargo of steels at US$11 000. The US Gulf also saw reductions as a 39 000 DWT was rumored to have been fixed from SW Pass to the Black Sea with grains in the low US$ 20,000’s. In the South Atlantic, a 37 000 DWT was fixed from Santos to Morocco with a cargo of sugar at US$20 000, whilst a 43 000 DWT was fixed from Recalada to Venezuela with a cargo of grains at US$22 000. Asia was more balanced with an unknown handy fixing from China via Indonesia for a round trip at US$9200 but further information was limited.

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Source: Dry Bulk Magazine