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HANSA 11-2020

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Märkte | Markets Capacity stretched beyond Golden Week The rally in the container markets continues despite the spectre of second lockdowns. A capacity squeeze puts shipowners in the charter market firmly in the driving seat. By Michael Hollmann Concerns that the recent boom may begin to stutter after the Golden Week have proven unfounded to date. Unlike in previous years, the week-long national holiday with large-scale plant closures in China seems not to have marked a turning-point, with ships reportedly continuing to sail fully laden from the Far East to consuming centres of North America and Europe. Just a handful of ships The ongoing strength in freight rates bears testimony to it, so does the idle fleet count by Alphaliner which dropped to its lowest level in the month of October for five years. As per 12 October, the market research unit recorded 130 idle ships with a total capacity of 438,410 TEU (both liner- and tramp-controlled). This was just 1.8% of global capacity, largely made up of tonnage berthed or dry-docked in ship yards or faced with arrest or boycott. Some experts who analysed the statistics more closely suggested that no more than 15,000 TEU were available to be reactivated at short notice – literally just a handful of unfixed tramp vessels. Spot/prompt tonnage two weeks forward is the tightest it has been for a long time with more and more segments even below 3,000 TEU marked as »sold out« for immediate delivery. Average charter rates continued to increase at breakneck speed by around 10 % throughout the last month, for some classes such as 2,700 TEU gearless, 3,500 TEU gearless and 8,500 TEU post-panamaxes gains were even closer to 15%. Other eye-catching trends included steeper regional rate increases in the Atlantic where the market had been lagging behind Asia due to greater numbers of unemployed vessels. Fixing levels have been catching up, especially in the panamax sector: While vessels in the Atlantic were previously forced to accept discounts of several thousand dollars versus ships in Asia, the gap has now disappeared. Brokers assess rates more or less at similar levels of minimum 17,000 $/day. For gearless 2,700 TEU and geared 2,500 TEU ships there was still a gap of 1,000-2,500 $/d between west and east of Suez, albeit gradually diminishing. The spot supply of vessels below 2,000 TEU in North Europe dropped to zero for the first time in many months. By the middle of October, all that was left were five feeder ships in cold lay-up. Operators, pressed for capacity amid surging transhipment volumes from Asia, found no extra vessels. Viele weitere Kennzahlen & Raten auf hansa-online.de: Container, Tanker, Bulker, MPP, Shortsea, Umschlag, Bunker & Öl … und vieles mehr The few owners taking redelivery of ships and offering them back to the market achieved notable gains. Rates for 1,000 TEU ice class ships firmed up from very low to mid 5,000 €’s, soon to be outstripped by a Damen 800 type reportedly extended at 5,700 €/d for 5-7 months. Tonnage demand also picked up in the Med allowing rates for 1,100 TEU units to move up higher in the 6,000’s $/d while those for geared 1,700 TEU and also for 1,300 TEU recovered to over 7,000 $/day. More for longer … Further, there has been quite an increase in periods, with owners succeeding in securing higher rates for extended durations. A case-in-point was the extension of the 8,600 TEU »Hyundai Mercury« at 30,000 $/d for 30-32 months by MSC. Most other fixtures in the segments above 3,000 TEU were done for at least 9 months, taking ships comfortably into next summer. There were also longer period fixtures for sub-panamaxes, with the 2,824 TEU »AS Cardonia« reportedly extending with Zim for 18 months at 11,500 $/d in the Med. So, how much longer can the rally go on? More and more analysts agree that the recent cargo boom is driven by two transient trends. First of all, consumer behaviour in the western world has shifted from services to consumer goods which have to be packed and shipped. Secondly, businesses across many sectors kicked off a restocking cycle after running down their stocks during the lockdowns. How long it will take them to get back to »normal« stock levels, is up for debate. The signs are that the process will continue into next year with further peaks to be reached ahead of Christmas and ahead of Chinese New Year. In the US, the business inventories/sales ratio dropped to the lowest in more than five years back in August. At a level of 1.32, the ratio was 5.5% lower than in August 2019 – and that was before the christmas shopping season had even started. Should the current spate of corona infections dampen consumption, inventories-to-sales would of course begin to relax. Tracking the pulse of trade will be more important than ever in the coming months. n VIEWPOINT US grains – a blessing for geared bulkers Sentiment in the dry bulk market remains relatively optimistic despite some correction in rates. Jens Christian Nielsen, managing director of German shipbroker Frachtcontor, sees the fourth quarter »on a good way«. HANSA: Is the dry cargo market back in a stable setting following the rebound this summer? Time to call the end of the »crisis«? Jens Christian Nielsen: The worst seems past us. Supply/demand fundamentals for 2021 look much better: + 4.5 % forecast dry bulk cargo growth versus scheduled fleet growth of +2.2 % before scrapping. Trading in the dry cargo sphere has proven more robust than expected. Presently, we are seeing a lot of activity all over. Charter 8 HANSA – International Maritime Journal 11 | 2020

Märkte | Markets Orders & Sales New Orders Container The container ship newbuilding market has come to a standstill. There have been no firm orders in recent weeks. However, some talks are underway, brokers report. For example, MSC is said to have signed an LOI with CSSC for six additional 23,000 TEU ships. The global currently orderbook stands at 1.9 mill. TEU, representing a low 8.2% of the current fleet. Secondhand Sales After quite significant activity with a relatively large number of sales, the last weeks have seen slightly fewer deals. In view of the rate trends, owners apparently hope for rising asset prices. The most recently reported sales include the »Maria Schulte« (3,524 TEU) for 7.75 mill. $ to Lomar Shipping and »Tanja Rickmers« (4,253 TEU) for 10.5 mill. $ to Costamare. Demolition Sales The scrapping market has been relatively calm in recent weeks with only a few sales, for example »CMA CGM Jakarta« or »Wan Hai 211«. This was partly due to the Corona pandemic and the associated work restrictions. On the other hand, owners are once again trying harder to get rid of older ships on the lively second-hand market. Prices have been quite stable recently.MM Container ship t / c market 500 450 400 350 300 21.04.20 Container freight market WCI Shanghai-Rotterdam 2,186 $/FEU - 4.7 % WCI Shanghai-Los Angeles 4,038 $/FEU - 1.2 % Dry cargo / Bulk 20.10.20 Month on Month 499 • + 10.4 % Baltic Dry Index 1401 - 12.7 % Time charter averages / spot: $/d Capesize 5TC average 18,537 - 18.8 % Panamax 4TC average (82k) 11,294 - 7.8 % Supramax 10TC average (58k) 10,692 - 1.1 % Handysize 7TC average (38k 10,743 + 3.0 % Forward / ffa front month (Nov 20): $/d Capesize 180k 18,872 - 18.5 % Panamax 74k 12,302 - 11.5 % MPP October ’19 $ 7,515 TMI Toepfer’s Multipurpose Index October ’20 $ 6,615 12,500 tdw MPP/HL »F-Type« vessel for a 6-12 months TC Tankers Shortsea / Coaster Norbroker 3,500 dwt earnings est. 2,950 + 18.0 % HC Shortsea Index 13.75 + 7.2 % ISTFIX Shortsea Index 491 + 21.5 % Norbroker: spot t/c equivalent assessment basis round voyage North Sea/Baltic; HC Shipping & Chartering index tracking spot freights on 5 intra-European routes; Istfix Istanbul Freight Index covering spot freight ex Black Sea Bunkers COMPASS Baltic Dirty Tanker Index 424 - 1.6 % Baltic Clean Tanker Index 339 - 17.7 % VLSFO 0.5 Rotterdam $/t 310 + 6.1 % MGO Rotterdam $/t 332 + 5.7 % Forward / Swap price Q1 / 2021 VLSFO 0.5 Rotterdam $/t 294 - 0.3 % Data per 22.10.2020, month-on-month © Frachtcontor Jens Christian Nielsen, MD Frachtcontor Junge operators are the ones benefiting the most lately, having previously taken on tonnage for period at relatively cheap rates. For vessel owners, the picture is somewhat different, with average earnings so far this year still at insufficient levels. Generally, the fourth quarter is on a good way. There are lots of cargo bookings and in some areas, including the Continent, tonnage is very scarce. Last year’s Q4 was very strong as well which is still on people’s minds, so sentiment is rather good. Yet, the nearterm outlook has become a bit cloudier due to the rapid pace of Covid-19 infections. The risk of second lockdowns is high and the impact on trading and finance activities could be severe. Smaller geared ships have shown a robust performance of late with hardly any ups and downs. What’s happening there? Nielsen: The Continent/Mediterranean market witnessed a peak in steel scrap volumes recently which went a long way in supporting strong freight levels. Also, there’s a lot happening behind the scenes in the US/China-trade despite the ongoing trade war, particularly with regard to grain shipping activity. In fact, soybean volumes from US to China have risen more than fourfold lately! Further, grain volumes ex Ukraine and ex Russia were quite strong during the third quarter. Still, we think the recent performance of supras and handies is quite a normal pattern. Commodities carried are often essentials like grains and fertilizers, there is less dependency on the more cyclical steel sector and generally more flexibility of deployment. The »coal« era might soon come to an end. The pandemic seems to accelerate the phasing-out of coal for power generation. Can dry bulk operators do without it? Nielsen: The potential for coal in the dry cargo trades is better than many people think. Yes, steam coal volumes for power generation may be on the decline in the western economies. China is also expected to reduce its imports going forward. However, India is emerging to replace China as biggest coal importer with strong growth rates. Across southeast Asia (Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines) coal demand for power generation keeps growing fast as well. Adding today’s low orderbook and the demolition potential across the smaller panamax fleet to the equation, we believe the dry bulk market can handle the projected decrease in coal volumes.mph HANSA – International Maritime Journal 11 | 2020 9

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