6 week: Russian River, Azov Sea, Caspian Sea; Coaster shipments
Azov’s area has yet to find bottom freight-wise after week 6. 20 USD mark has been breached for voyages ex Rostov to Black Sea, following the still-weakening demand for local tonnage. Wheat prices FOB-Rostov, obviously the trendsetter, are growing, supported by, aside from other reasons, increasing costs of pre-carriage to port. Truckers have succeeded in their recent strike against low tariffs on grains transportation, which outpoured in improving prices on goods.
Spot tonnage’ situation becomes dramatic with more ‘newcomers’ adding every day. According to rules of caravan forming, vessel is not allowed to proceed with ice-breaker support until port or loading terminal provide their confirmation, therefore idle tonnage is gathering near Kerch. This makes easier for Ship Owners to consider cargo orders also ex Black Sea ports, despite the fact, that freight on such voyages has also been severely reduced during the last week. Lack of demand for grains on behalf of key importer states of Mediterranean market has impacted not Russia alone.
Caspian freight market looks well-balanced, as rates for voyages from Astrakhan are keeping mid-high 30-s USD. Grievous ice conditions at Volgo-Caspian Channel continue to narrow the available fleet, thus supporting the rates from falling. Freight ex Aktau or Makhachkala declines faster, the more Owners decide to avoid calling Astrakhan in favor of ice-free ports. Thereby, roads of these ports have become congested by 5-8 vessels, awaiting (and willing to) their turn for loading, despite approximately 10 USD higher rate for voyage ex Astrakhan.
Domestic agrarians are already preparing to next grain season. Owing to lack of strong frosts during this winter and also to abundant autumn rainfalls, winter wheat crops are found in favorable condition. According to different forecasts, total yield of wheat may sum up to 67-72 000 kmts, which is roughly equal to previous year’ crop.
Market participants agree that current, utterly disappointing situation with dull commodity market and Traders unable to make deals, shall in mid-term run (March-April) change for the better. Producers will be compelled to sell the remained goods prior to new crop if only to bolster sowing campaign. Demand for over-priced grains on the inner market shall not hold.