Hiring a capesize bulk carrier on Wednesday would cost you over $7,000 per day more than it did 24 hours earlier, following the largest daily adjustment of the Baltic Capesize Index in 13 years.
Baltic Exchange panellists added $7,140 to their daily assessment of average capesize spot rates across five key routes (5TC) on Wednesday, the biggest single rise since 2010 and the biggest ever rise in the 5TC assessment since it superseded the previous index in 2014.
The upward revision brought the Baltic Capesize Index assessment to $41,796 per day, the highest level in roughly two years.
The rally has mainly been driven by strength in the North Atlantic market, where a low number of ships have arrived in ballast from the Pacific in the past couple of months and the scant available tonnage is being squeezed by consistent cargo supply.
“[We are] Seeing a lot of activity in all sectors with a rush to cover [December] loaders in the North Atlantic and Brazil driving rates up and seeing a number of ballasters absorbed into cargoes loading in Colombia and Canada additionally,” shipbroker Ben Bates, head of dry cargo at Braemar, told TradeWinds on Wednesday.
Bates said there had been early reports of transatlantic voyages fixing at a time charter equivalent rate of over $60,000 per day.
Brazil-China (C3) voyages for iron ore were said to be fixing on Wednesday at over $30 per tonne, he added.
Meanwhile, the Australia-China voyage (C5) was reported to be pushing into the low $12-per-tonne range. Bates said it has “continued to lend robust support to sentiment and rates and, coupled with further significant daily FFA [forward freight agreement] gains, suggest there is more to come in the short term”.
John Michael Radziwill, CEO of commercial management giant C Transport Maritime — a hardened optimist when it comes to the capesize market — said even he was taken by surprise by the rally.
“The capesize market has been like a coiled spring for a while now (low fleet growth/good demand growth) and owners are finally less reserved to ask for more,” he told TradeWinds.
“This enormous rate rise is very welcome and in all honesty, we didn’t expect such a huge move up in this short time frame, even though throughout this year we believed the market should have been higher than it was and finally it has taken just a small supply/demand tweak to uncoil the capesize market spring!
“The sector has now shown its potential and moments like these are what makes shipping the most exciting business in the world!”
The capesize freight derivative market was flying as of noon in London on Wednesday.
Bids for the December 5TC capesize contract were at around $28,900 per day, up by more than $4,600 on Tuesday’s settlement price on the back of busy trading activity.
Needless to say, all other capesize contracts were feeling the love on Wednesday too and trading screens were awash with green numbers as bidders drove prices higher, particularly for front-month contracts.