bulk carrier north sea sand bank shipping bulker

Bulk carrier in the North Sea, file image (c) Shutterstock/WimL

Dec. 13 (Bloomberg) — Shipping is at the start of a two-year rally, led by advancing rates to haul coal, iron ore and grains, as fleet growth slows and China’s strengthening economy boosts cargoes, Morgan Stanley said.

Demand for ships will expand at a faster pace than vessels in 2014, the first time in six years that will have happened, New York-based analyst Fotis Giannakoulis said in an e-mailed report today. He upgraded estimates for the industry to “in- line” from “cautious,” and said demand for ships to haul everything from iron ore to grains will benefit most.

The more positive forecast mirrors wider predictions by shipping analysts that the worst of an industry rout is ending. Rates for 10 out of 11 commodity-carrying ships will advance next year, led by a 53 percent rally for Panamaxes hauling coal and ore, according to the averages of more than 50 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg News.

“We see a 12- to 18-month window to play the cycle,” Giannakoulis said. The industry’s recovery will last two years after which vessel supply will quicken again. The rally favors owners and operators including Diana Shipping Inc., Safe Bulkers Inc., Knightsbridge Tankers Ltd., and Star Bulk Carriers Corp., he said.

While China’s economic expansion will slow to 7.5 percent next year, the weakest since 1990, its growth will still be more than three times the global average, according to economist estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Fleet growth will decline to less than 5 percent next year and lower than 4 percent in 2015, Giannakoulis wrote. That compares with demand expansion of as much as 6.5 percent in 2014 and 5.5 percent in 2015, he said.

Capesize Rally

Rates for Capesize ships that transport iron ore averaged $25,970 a day since the start of October, on course for the highest quarterly average since the end of 2011, according to data from the Baltic Exchange, a London-based publisher of freight prices on more than 50 trade routes. Earnings from the largest crude oil tankers are close to the highest in 3 1/2 years, the data show.

The ClarkSea Index, a measure of earnings across the maritime industry, has doubled to $15,189 since reaching a 2013 low in February, according to Clarkson Plc, the biggest shipbroker.

- Alaric Nightingale, Copyright 2013 Bloomberg.

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