Bulk Carrier Blues: Market Challenges And Seasonal Resilience



On the C5 front, we see a moderate level of volumes from miners, some operators, and tenders all primarily for late April dates. Limited enquiries from some operators for forward May dates. Volumes out of East Australia and other Pacific businesses have picked up, with enquiries ranging from second half of April prompt dates till mid May dates. Volumes out of South Africa have remained flat from last week. On C3 ex Brazil to China and West Africa, volume of enquiries has maintained from last week with majority for May dates. Far East tonnage is increasingly abundant. Ballasting tonnage weighs heavily on first half of May with some vessels drifting off South Africa able to make second half of April dates. On C5, we see a pullback from last week with fixtures concluding at sub USD 9 pmt levels. On C3, we see fixtures concluding at mid USD 24 pmt levels for mid-May.


The Panamax market has exhibited signs of struggle across various regions. Despite an uptick in ECSA grain shipments hinting at a possible market rebound, the immediate outlook remains subdued. In the Atlantic, a significant lack of fresh demand against a backdrop of increasing tonnage has kept the market under pressure, with rates continuing to be affected negatively. The situation is further exacerbated by a correction in the BPI time charter average and a distinct absence of activity, particularly in the North Atlantic. Similarly, the Asian market faces challenges due to a lack of new demand and the impact of holidays, contributing to a pessimistic sentiment. Despite some isolated discussions of steadier rates for deferred dates, the Panamax market is currently characterised by low activity, an oversupply of tonnage, and a cautious market sentiment.


Seasonality suggests the market will bottom here and rise slowly the next couple of months. Fundamentals are supportive, with shipment volume growth above the rate of supply growth. Industrial metals prices (copper, aluminium, zinc, and nickel) are rising, suggesting firming global industrial activity. Industrial metals prices often lead the Supra/Ultra (as well as Panamax/Kamsarmax and Handysize) market by 4-6 months. The lead points upwards going forward.

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Source : Fearnpulse