What a rebound. After the Baltic Dry Index (BDI) had its seasonal weakness around the Chinese New Year in early February, stronger-than-expected demand came from across the board and lifted freight rates. This brought earnings into profitable levels for a couple of days, as the BDI passed 1,282 on 27 March 2017.
The most recent available data show that demand for the container shipping grew by 2.7% in 2016. With the supply side growing by only 1.3%, this meant that the fundamental market balance improved for the first time since 2011. This development is primarily due to decisive actions by shipowners who sold excess tonnage for demolition.
Oil tankers experienced a tough start to 2017 as freight rates for all crude oil and oil product tankers continued their decline following the brief lift at year-end. For one, VLCCs may not yet have bottomed out. By 7 April 2017, average earnings stood at USD 18,853 per day, down from USD 63,284 per day on 16 December 2016.
The recent months’ uptick in global indicators, which implies a strengthening in the global economy, is not sufficient for the patient to be discharged yet. The state of the global economy is still uncertain, despite stronger growth dynamics in advanced economies, and not least in China.
China's import of iron ore will continue to be a key driver for the demand growth in 2017 for the dry bulk shipping industry, alongside shipping of grains.