On the 31st week, FOB wheat prices in the Black Sea region decreased slightly. The reason for that was the appearance on the market of grain from the Russian Central region and Ukraine, as well as the decline in the ruble exchange rate; the latter in a short time period allowed traders to conclude contracts, while grain prices did not win back. The reduction on the grain market was also facilitated by a pause among buyers in Muslim countries, most of whom went on the weekend; they suspended purchases due to the fact that the holidays will end on August 4, and everyone will return to activities at the end of the 32nd week. However, despite the long Muslim holidays, the market did not respond to this with decline. The work on the already signed contracts continued, and there was not much of open spot tonnage. Thus, the market is rather on the Owners’ side; in confirmation of this, rates added a US dollar: the rate on the basis of the voyage from Rostov to Samsun was about USD 16 per a ton of wheat.
Over the past week, the demand for tonnage for cabotage voyages has increased significantly on the part of Charterers. Most of the requests were from the middle Volga in both North and South directions. Rates responded to this with a fairly strong growth. For example, the rate on the basis of the voyage from Ulyanovsk to St. Petersburg was about USD 20-21 per ton, and from Samara to Kavkaz about USD 30. Due to the low water level, a considerable part of the fleet cannot load up to full capacity; voyages from the river are quite expensive. Realizing their advantage, Owners of Omskiy type vessels are hiking rates. This has led to a situation where an already scarce fleet becomes even more inaccessible to Charterers, which is why there is lack of open positions. Traders are trying to transport cargo to Azov or Rostov, and in this direction the freight has also increased; it may reach up to USD 20 per ton from Samara.
In the Caspian region, there is a silent period in grain shipments due to Muslim holidays. Activity was observed only on domestic transportation from river elevators to St. Petersburg, Astrakhan, Azov and Rostov. Traders think that the 33rd week will be followed by a spike in grain prices, which will accelerate the freight market. In the meanwhile, all shippers are waiting for good purchase prices from Iranian buyers. After August 15, the warehouses will receive the new crop corn, which will also affect the price market.