September 10, 2015: The Drewry All Earnings Index, which covers the main bulk shipping markets, fell 20% in August and stood at 152, according to the Shipping Insight report published by shipping consultancy Drewry.
The index was held back by weaker tanker and LPG charter rates, but overall earnings would have fallen further were it not for some recovery in dry bulk sectors. The fall in August's earnings followed a month in which the index had soared 46%, indicating the volatile state of the shipping market. The index is an average of time charter earnings for dry bulk, tankers and LPG markets, weighted according to estimated market share.
Freight rates for dirty tankers went down in August with the decline in crude demand from the US and Europe. The decline in LPG rates was mainly attributed to low demand from Asian consumers, while ample cargo was available in the Middle East.
"The tanker market is expected to remain volatile in September, as strong demand for crude in Asia- Pacific supports the market, while refinery shut-downs in Europe act as a dampener," said report author Rahul Sharan. "The tanker market may suffer further if escalating violence in Iraq and threats of increased sanctions on Russia lead to supply disruptions."
The dry bulk market revived thanks to an increase in demand for iron ore and coal. Sharan elaborated: "Supramaxes and Panamaxes were employed in the Pacific to ship coal, grain and minerals. As a result, freight rates surged on major routes."
The index reached a four-year high of 310 in December 2013 on the back of a strong recovery in time charter rates across all sectors. Despite its decline, August's reading still represented a 50% year-on- year gain and a 24% premium to the 3-year average.