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The Shipping Industry Isn't Doing as Well as It Looks From Space

  • Even with money-losing rates, vessels grab any cargo they can
  • Global commodity trade set for first 2-year slump since 1990s
YULIN NAVAL BASE, HAINAN ISLAND, CHINA - FEBRUARY 4, 2011: DigitalGlobe close-up satellite imagery of the Yulin Naval Base shows a ported submarine. According to several intelligence agencies, the Yulin Naval Base is an underground naval base for nuclear submarines along the southern coast of Hainan Island, People's Republic of China. Image was taken on February 4th, 2010. (Photo DigitalGlobe via Getty Images)
Photographer: ScapeWare3d/DigitalGlobe via Getty Images
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For an industry that is losing money on almost every transaction, the world’s commodity shippers are remarkably busy grabbing any cargo they can get their hands on.

From space, where satellites track ship movements, it all appears like the market is booming, data compiled by Bloomberg show. At giant iron-ore loading terminals in Brazil and Australia, millions of tons are loaded each month on vessels that come and go like clockwork. Along the coastlines of China, Singapore and even Greece, the picture is the same: little waiting about.