33 week: Russian River, Azov Sea, Caspian Sea; Coaster shipments
As expected, freight rates in the Azov region dropped seriously on the 33rd week and despite the height of the grain season, reduced to May’s level. Owners feel certain that the market will come to life at the beginning of the new week, and that they will have the opportunity to raise rates, but experts who keep a close watch on market conditions are not sure of that: still buyers offer too low prices, and exporters continue to hold on to the goods. At this stage, many consider cheapen ruble as the primary driver of new deals conclusion. Over the past week, the US dollar appreciated by almost 1 ruble, which led to a surge in activity closer to the weekend, but a large number of spot tonnage does not allow yet rates to grow.
The Black Sea grain market is also depressed, freight rates from the Ukrainian Black Sea ports and Novorossiysk are reducing in in direct ratio to the Azov ones.
The freight market from the Volga and Don is also in a state of stagnation. The reason for this is very low scores of new harvest in the Volga regions, so Owners are more interested in transit cargo from the Black Sea to the Caspian Sea and return. Competition and high margins on this market allow Owners to feel confident in the trade issues, despite the lowering rates from the river.
The Caspian region also showed a negative trend amid a backdrop of Muslim holidays. Charterers of fertilizers from Turkmenistan took advantage of the situation for some measure, intercepting part of the tonnage for transit shipments. There is still an imbalance on the market, and a large number of spot vessels will open at Astrakhan on the 34th week, which will continue to pull the market down. The short-term prospects largely depend on how quickly Iranian importers will return to activity, as there are no problems with the availability of cargo in the Astrakhan region, and the cargo offer clearly exceeds the demand. Market insiders believe that the market should stabilize in early September.