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Dry bulk FFA market: Is the fat lady clearing her throat?

Dry bulk FFA market: Is the fat lady clearing her throat?
Its proponents never fail to point out the unique characteristics of the dry bulk freight market and a 1,400% rise in the Capesize index in a month certainly reinforces the claim to its unusual status.

The fact that the recovery of the dry bulk market is more akin to the patient sitting up and talking than a Lazarus-like leap out of bed has been somewhat overlooked in the wave of enthusiasm.

The issues as ever are timing and longevity. The supply-side has been propped up by iron ore prices and on the demand side, an uptick in steel prices and production in China underpinned positive sentiment. Iron ore stockpiles are high but not far off historical averages.

Trouble is, the market has spent the week wondering if the boom is having a blip and there was a nervous edge to trading as the physical market began to feel a little patchy.

Cape FFAs were active all week but rates felt under pressure. The Atlantic was busy with Vale taking numerous ships while the Pacific saw better fixtures too. Buyers came back to provide some support and the pressure was on physical to push on.

Thursday ended on a firmer note with rumours of Tubarao/Qingdao fixing higher spurring buyers on. The sudden slowdown in the physical might prove to be a breather rather than a full turn south but time will tell.

Panamaxes had an up and down week too, and after looking somewhat oversold in the face of a steadier physical market we began to pull back some of the early loses by the end of the week.

The gains were gradual early on but we saw some sharper buying towards the close on Q2 before sellers all but disappeared. Good volume changed hands further out as Cal17 and 18 traded up and with Capes finishing better bid, the tone remains positive.

Better bids on supramax paper too as continued rumours of steady support on the physical side circulated during the week. Traders have been cautious up to this point but the gains on the bigger ships have set the tone. Along with stronger indices, the smaller ships saw the quarters trading up while the back end finished up better bid but with less trading.

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