Steel Products Prices North America

Capesize Shipping Rates Slowing Down—Rates Rising Elsewhere

Written by Sandy Williams

Shipping in the Capesize Market is beginning to slow down after a strong September driven by iron ore restocking in China and exports of ore from Brazil.  According to the MID-SHIP Report on Oct. 10, average Capesize earnings fell to $33,368 from $42,211 two weeks ago.  Time charters averaged $30,000 prompting owners to turnover cargo quicker increasing the supply of available vessels. Rates are down for Fronthaul, Atlantic Rounds, and Pacific charters as well. 

The Panamax market has high rates in the Atlantic Ocean with Baltic area levels around $30,000 per day for trips to the East.  Pacific rates are holding at $17,000 per day and MID-SHIP reports that at those rates owners are not anxious to bring tonnage back to the Atlantic—a factor that will “keep a strong supply/demand on this side of the pond.”

Rates are surging in the Supramax market in the US Gulf, with average time charter rates up from $10,579 to $12,285 in the last two weeks. In the Handysize Market, the average of the four time charter routes moved up 9.0 percent in the past two weeks to $8,971. Rates for Trans Atlantic Voyages are up 21 percent from Sept. 25 and Trans Pacific Round Voyages are up 6.5 percent. 

MID-SHIP says the movement away from “slow streaming” (operating vessels at slow speeds to save on fuel costs but resulting in longer voyages) may be a negative factor for the shipping industry that is already concerned with oversupply. 


Low water levels and late harvesting of grains has sent southbound grain barge rates soaring—440 percent in two weeks. With low water levels, operators are restricting drafts to 9 feet requiring more barges to move tonnage. The government shut-down has affected some shippers who require special licensing from U.S. agencies for certain imports and exports.

River conditions are generally good throughout the U.S. waterway system.  Water levels have been fluctuating with rains in the Mid-West and Ohio Valley and some slowing has been caused by fog from cooler temperatures. 

Diesel fuel has declined 8.4 cents per gallon in the past four weeks, and as of Oct. 10 was at $3.897/gallon.  Fuel surcharges are expected to be within $0.56 and $0.59 per loaded mile.

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