The capesize bulker market reached a six-week high on Monday as shipowners kept their vessels in the Pacific basin instead of ballasting to a less lucrative Atlantic basin, according to a broker.

The Baltic Exchange’s Capesize 5TC set of spot-rate averages across five key routes gained 9.2% on Monday to $14,503 per day to reach its highest point since early August and continue a nearly two-week upward trend.

Rio Tinto hired two unnamed capesizes on Monday to ship 170,000 tonnes of iron ore each at $9 per tonne and $9.25 per tonne from Dampier, Australia, to Qingdao, China, after loading the vessels from 1 to 4 October.

On Friday, the Australian iron ore major hired two unnamed capesizes to ship the same amounts of ore on the same route at a lower $8.75 per tonne and $8.85 per tonne after loading the ships from 29 September to 3 October.

Higher average spot rates on the shorter Pacific voyages are the main reason for the rising capesize market as owners keep their ships in the Pacific basin, thus tightening supply in the Atlantic basin, said Wilson Wirawan, maritime analyst and dry bulk team lead with BRS Shipbrokers.

“Typically speaking, when Pacific voyages perform better than the fronthaul voyage, this will entice shipowners to stay within the Pacific basin which will in turn reduce ballasters heading to the Atlantic basin, putting upward pressure on rates,” he told TradeWinds.

The average spot rate for the exchange’s C10 roundtrip iron ore route between Australia and China leapt 11.1% to $16,158 per day on Monday, while the C3 roundtrip ore route between Brazil and China rose 6.4% to $11,630 per day.

As the number of capesizes ballasting to the Atlantic basin fell over the past two weeks, the Capesize 5TC gained 61% to surpass $14,500 per day on Monday, Wirawan noted.

“Taking a quick glimpse at the historical chart of C10-C14, except for 2021, the ceiling had been circa at $5,000 per day,” he said.

“This meant, from a technical perspective that there should be still some room in the last two weeks for C5TC to push on before reassessing the momentum as we approach the China October holidays.”

The capesize futures market certainly reflected such optimism on Monday, as October contracts rose 5.3% to $18,175 per day on Monday, according to data from UK broking house Braemar.

The rest of the dry bulk market also improved on Monday, but to a much lesser degree, according to the exchange.

The Panamax 5TC edged up 0.6% to $14,995 per day on Monday, while the Supramax 10TC gained 1.6% to $13,641 per day. The Handysize 7TC rose 1.7% to $11,615 per day.