Charter market improves despite weakening freight rates


DESPITE weakening freight rates, 2011 has started well for containership owners as analysis of last week's charter market shows carriers moving to secure charters for 12-month fixtures or longer.

There was a fall in demand for the 650- to 1,000-TEU ships, but increases for larger units prompted the Howe Robinson Containership Index (HRCI) to rise, adding 15.72 points, or 2.19 per cent, in the week up to January 19.

The charter market was busy ahead of Chinese New Year in the first week of February, and a number of fixtures for at least 12-month periods in China were concluded.

Lines, expecting more cargo as the slack season ebbs, have been seeking tonnage at rates, which may rise as early as mid-February, says London's Containerisation International. But if oil prices increase, as many expect, today's bullish charter market may turn bearish as the industry enters the peak season period.

Fixtures reported were the 3,700-TEU Clifton Bridge to Hainan PO Shipping for 20 months at US$10,000 a day and the 2,824-TEU Annina Schulte for 10 months at $13,000 a day also to Hainan; the 2,824-TEU Irenes Dream to MSC for 12 months at $11,500 a day; the 2,672-TEU Bosun to Cosco for 12 months at US$12,500 a day; the 1,728-TEU Wehr Blankenese to Orient Express Line for three to four months at $8,100 a day; 1,717-TEU Port Said to Hanjin for 12 months at $9,750 a day and the 1,122-TEU Manx Lion to Safmarine for three to six months at $8,500 a day.

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