The number of Capesize ships reported as hired to transport iron ore in January to China, the biggest importer, fell 57 percent from the prior month, underpinning a slump in earnings, DNB Bank ASA said.
The slide in vessel bookings, especially from the biggest iron-ore exporter, Brazil, led a 61 percent fall in ton mile demand this month, a measurement of volumes carried by distances traveled, according to the Oslo-based bank. The capacity of Capesize ships hired totaled 6.3 million deadweight tons, versus 14.8 million tons in December, according to DNB, citing a list published by Clarkson Plc, the biggest shipbroker. Not all bookings are reported to the market.
Average rates for Capesize vessels, comprising 40 percent of the global bulk carrier fleet, are 52 percent lower than December’s high of $15,532 a day, according to the London-based Baltic Exchange, which publishes freight costs.
Brazil’s share of bookings averaged 25 percent in the final quarter of 2012, versus 13 percent in January, according to DNB, adding ton-mile demand also fell by 59 percent in January 2012 from the prior month.
The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of commodity freight costs, declined for a seventh day, sliding 1.5 percent to 767, the lowest since Jan. 15, exchange data show. Capesize ships were 1.6 percent lower at $7,499 daily, while Panamax ships, the largest to transit the Panama Canal, dropped 1.9 percent to $5,462. Supramaxes, about 25 percent smaller, slid 1.1 percent to $7,194 while Handysizes, the smallest, were 1.3 percent lower at $6,889 per day.