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HIGHER SHIPPING RATES PUSH BALTIC INDEX UP

The Baltic Exchange’s main sea freight index, tracking rates for ships carrying dry bulk commodities, rose on Wednesday due to strengthening rates across all vessel segments.

The overall index, which factors in rates for capesize, panamax, supramax and handysize shipping vessels, was up 28 points, or 3.6 percent, at 806 points. The capesize index gained 95 points, or 11.1 percent, to close at 951 points. Average daily earnings for capesizes, which typically transport 150,000-tone cargoes such as iron ore and coal, were up $700 to $7,708. The panamax index broke a six-session losing streak to finish higher by 2 points, or 0.22 percent, at 908 points.

Average daily earnings for panamaxes, which usually carry coal or grain cargoes of about 60,000 to 70,000 tons, increased $16 to $7,295. Among smaller vessels, the supramax index rose 19 points to 783 points, while the handysize index rose 8 points to 410 points.

INDONESIA BACK IN MINOR BULK TRADE

Seaborne minor bulk trade is estimated to have remained steady at best in 2016, making it the third consecutive uninspiring year of minor bulk trade growth following the introduction of Indonesia’s refined mineral export ban in January 2014.

Indonesia is now set to restart bauxite and nickel ore exports in 2017 which, given the country’s previous key role, may help to change minor bulk trade dynamics. Seaborne minor bulk trade is estimated to have dropped 0.3 percent to 1,851mt in 2016, partly due to a sharp drop in bauxite and nickel ore shipments.

This contributed to average seaborne minor bulk trade growth of only 0.5 percent pa in 2014-16, compared to 4.9 percent pa in 2011-13. This notable drop in the pace of total minor bulk trade growth between the two periods coincided with the introduction of Indonesia’s mineral export ban in 2014.

In the three years prior to the ban, Indonesian minor bulk exports grew by an average of 35 percent pa, accounting for almost a third of total minor bulk trade growth.

HAMBURG CONTAINER TRADE ASCENDS

Hamburg port operator Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA) posted a 1.5 percent year-on-year increase in container throughput to 6.7 million TEU in 1916.

Hamburg marine container terminals recorded a 1.1 percent rise in throughput of 6.4 million TEU due to increases in volume in the second half. Throughput at Container Terminal Odessa was up 10.6 per cent to 300,000 TEU. Container transport activities of HHLA’s intermodal companies was up 6.8 percent to 1.4 million TEU. HHLA rail companies in particular were able to increase volume eight percent to 1.1 million TEU. Road haulage was up 2.9 percent on the previous year. HHLA group revenue was up 9.09 percent year on year to EUR1.20 billion (US$1.27 billion) while operating profit came in at EUR163 million up 3.8 percent.

 

ASIA FUEL OIL FRONT-MONTH TIME SPREAD NARROWS

Asia’s fuel oil front-month time spread narrowed on Wednesday in a move that was more reflective of underlying supply conditions over the near term.

Fundamentals aren’t there to support (spreads at) these levels, it was difficult to explain how current inventory levels in Singapore would warrant a steep backwardated structure for the 380-cst fuel over the near term.

It is said that a widening of the near-term backwardation for 380-cst fuel oil seemed exaggerated in the light of arbitrage arrivals in February being at a nine-month high, as well as strong inflows in March.

The Intercontinental Exchange-traded 380-cst fuel oil March/April spread narrowed by 60 cents a tone from the previous session, trading at $1.55 cents a ton in backwardation.

During the second half of the previous week, the 380-cst fuel oil March/April time spread soared, widening its backwardated structure while stirring expectations of a bullish trading strategy in the near term.

PORT OF LOS ANGELES, LONG BEACH OFF TO FLYING STAR

The Port of Los Angeles (POLA) and the Port of Long Beach, the two largest North American ports, got off to a flying start to the year, with total container throughput in January at POLA rising 17.4 percent year on year to a record 826,640 TEU.

POLA exports rose 28.7 percent compared to January 2016 to 162,420 TEU, while imports rose 13.1 percent to 415,423 TEU. Total loaded imports surged 17.1 percent to 577,843 TEU, and empty containers were up 17.9 per cent to 248,797 TEU.

The strong volume gains in January partially to retail stores replenishing inventories after the holidays, an increase in US exports and cargo ships calling in advance of Chinese New Year, a period in which exports from Europe usually slow down by a wide margin, reported Logistics Management of Framington, Massachusetts.

At Long Beach, container volume in January was up 8.7 percent year on year to 582,689 TEU, with the port noting that it saw increased volumes due to its largest terminal and extra ships calling in advance of the Lunar New Year.

MUMBAI PORT STAFF STRENGTH TO HALVE BY 2021

Mumbai Port, the country’s biggest government-owned one, will see its staff strength halve by 2021, as a large number of employees are due for retirement.

With no plan for hiring to replace the retirees, it is expecting stronger operating profit in the coming years. As on March 31, 2016, staff strength was 10,364. Of the total operating expenses, salary and wages were about 70 percent. With 4,700 employees retiring over the next five years, this expense outgo is expected to drop significantly, in turn, leading to expansion of margins.

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