Iron ore demand increase triggers Ship Rally to China

Car Shipping News

An increased iron ore demand has triggered this latest dry bulk rally, which could get yet another boost during next week, when China is expected to return to the global market. According to this week’s report from shipbroker Intermodal, “the surge in iron ore trade has translated into a massive boost in daily earnings for capes; with the demand for such vessels skyrocketing over the last couple of weeks. The gains noted for Capes are certainly impressive when considering that rates have recovered from below US$ 4,000/day noted back in June 2012!”

According to Intermodal’s SnP broker, Mr. Tasos Papadopoulos, “as a comparison, this time last year, iron ore had “crashed” down to just US$ 86/tonne, in a sudden shift that took the industry by surprise. This had primarily been the drive for last year’s seasonal round of restocking, however it seems that it was nowhere close to the excessive demand witnessed over the past couple of days”, he noted.

He added that “Capesize Container Ships provide the best insight into the health of the Chinese economy; and despite analysts having projected a slowdown in Chinese growth; China continues to import in order to replenish its supply. China’s aggressive iron ore restocking has encouraged a surge in demand while near-term prospects remain promising!

China is forced to import iron ore, as their inventories have declined significantly, down by 27% from their February 2012 highs. There have been large volumes of Chinese buying and restocking from both Australia and – more importantly – Brazil and the year could end on a high note”, Papadopoulos noted.

But the question that’s on everyone’s mind at the moment is, how long will this latest Capesize rally last? According to Intermodal’s analyst, “we expect Capesize rates to remain firm as long as Chinese iron ore restocking continues. Having said that, we have several examples from the recent past, where once the seasonal restocking process was over, we witnessed drops in freight rates which were just as quick as their preceding rise.

However, the present surge looks likely to be sustained for a bit longer, as it appears to be supported by improving fundamentals in China’s steel production and consumption. All the evidence points towards the fact that steel production and consumption in China is to continue to steadily grow, maintaining China’s iron ore imports at healthy levels in respect to the supply of vessels”, the shipbroker noted.

As per Mr. Papadoupolos’ analysis, “what is worth highlighting here is, that for the moment, only iron ore demand has picked up considerably and it has mostly been Capesize owners that have basked in the sun, while there has been limited spill-over effects noted in the panamax sector and at the same time Supras and Handies seem to be mostly unaffected”.

Will this boost in freight rates remain limited only to the larger segments or will we eventually see benefits trickle down to the smaller sizes? According to the analyst, “for the moment it seems as though these surplus rates are a privilege only the Capes can indulge in and as we have yet to see any spikes in demand for commodities such as grain or coal, the mere positive sentiment created by higher earnings may not be enough yet to provide a solid foundation for a complete dry bulk market recovery”, the report concluded.

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