Capesize Rates Fall as China Uses Existing Stockpiles of Iron Ore

iron ore
Iron Ore Pellets, Photo by Lars Lentz

(Bloomberg) — Rates for iron-ore carriers fell for a sixth day on speculation Chinese steel mills are drawing on stockpiles instead of imports, according to RS Platou Markets AS, the investment-banking unit of Norway’s largest shipbroker.

Daily earnings for Capesizes hauling 160,000 metric tons slid 3.3 percent to $5,287, the lowest since May 1, according to the Baltic Exchange, the London-based publisher of freight rates. That led the Baltic Dry Index, a broader gauge of commodities shipping costs, down 1.3 percent to 850.

Iron-ore inventories in China, the largest importer, dropped for a fourth month as April steel output rose from a year ago to 65.65 million tons, the second-highest on record, Frode Moerkedal, an Oslo-based analyst at Platou, said in an e- mailed report today. Rates will recover in the second half of the year, according to the report.

“In addition to this negative inventory cycle, Capesizes’ misfortune has been weak iron exports from Brazil,” Moerkedal said in the report. “We believe Capesize rates will stage a recovery in the second half of the year on the back of seasonal higher exports from Brazil and restocking by Chinese steel mills.”

Losses extended across the smaller ship types tracked by the index. Daily earnings for Panamaxes carrying about half as much cargo as Capesizes fell 2.4 percent to $7,588, according to the exchange. Supramaxes and Handysizes each fell less than 1 percent, to $8,921 and $8,175, respectively, data show.

– Isaac Arnsdorf, Copyright 2013 Bloomberg.