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Bulk index drops below average

LONDON: Shipping consultant Drewry says its All Earnings index, covering the main bulk shipping markets, fell 25 percent in September to 115. This follows a similar fall in August as a result of declining earnings by tanker and LPG owners.

The company says its index reached a four-year high of 310 points in December 2013 on the back of a strong recovery in time charter rates across all sectors, but has since weakened.

Epic-Gas-02The September fall represents a 12 percent year-on-year decline and the first time the index has fallen below its three-year average since May 2014.

Drewry says the slump would have been much greater but for a continued recovery in the dry bulk market with rates reaching a new high in September. However despite an increase in spot chartering for tanker vessels, freight rates for dirty tankers declined following a drop in crude oil prices from US$108 in April to US$86 by mid-October.

"We expect the tanker market to remain subdued through early October due to maintenance shut-downs of refineries in Europe," said Drewry's lead energy shipping analyst Rahul Sharan. "However, the market will recover later in the month as demand for crude rises with better refinery runs on approaching winter."

With little demand for LPG carriage to Asia, freight rates for chemical tankers remained stable as U.S. exports to both China and Europe remained flat added the analyst: "We do not expect much near term improvement in the chemical tankers trade. For instance, Europe's styrene imports from the US are unlikely to grow significantly in the coming weeks."

Drewry reports a boost in the dry bulk market prompted by a surge in Indian coal imports as well as seasonal growth in US grain exports, the latter supporting employment of Supramax and Handysize vessels. However, it added, a decline in demand for thermal coal from China has "severely dented the demand for larger vessels".

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