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Dry bulk market has little to look forward to from China at the moment




The dry bulk market’s rebound is long overdue, but when it comes, it won’t be because of China’s strong demand for commodities, or at least China’s role in it will be diminished than the past few years. At least that’s what the latest news from China’s economy are indicating. In its latest report, shipbroker Allied Shipbroking noted that “strong volatility and a general shake up in the commodities markets has been the main description of this past week’s events and continuing on from last week’s article it is more and more evident that most traders in the market are fairly confused at the signs being given. Last week the commodities markets (especially in the case of most dry bulk commodities such as iron ore and coal) noted a firm hike in prices both in the futures and physical markets. This was largely driven by China’s National People’s Congress which discussed the proposed changes and targets it plans to put through for its next five year plan (pointing to the major role China still plays not only in the physical markets of these commodities but also in the minds of most investors worldwide)”.

Allied’s,George Lazaridis, Head of Market Research & Asset Valuations, noted that “speculation was rife, as some sought to take a more optimistic view as to what was coming out of China. Most of these traders might have been overeager to pull the trigger on their investment strategies, inpatient as to when the market would turn. However it seems as though they might have miscalculated the timing, having avoided to read some of the fine print from China’s next stimulus plan. As such we have started off the week with the biggest two-day slide in commodity prices, while in turn this has had knock off effects on global stocks and other financial instruments. At the same time the recent decision by the Bank of Japan to jump off the stimulus bandwagon hindered by the growing underlining risk of a negative interest-rate strategy has left further woes for the global economy. As such, much is left in question as to the true direction of global economic growth”, he mentioned.

Of course, Lazaridis continued, “in the physical market, the actual uptick in demand (and therefore in prices) of iron ore have been more reliant on supply, demand and inventories as always rather than mere expectations of financial markets. However, once you take a closer look, these are more near-term in nature. Namely low inventories and the prospects of a forced stoppage in the output of several still mills in China over the summer months, have pushed many to scramble for ore while trying to operate at full capacity in order to build stocks of metals so as to be ready to supply the seasonal pickup in construction in spring. This chain has more to do with seasonality then any political decision undertaken, however it does hold a small truth as to the state of the market. Expectations are that new real estate constructions are slowly going to pick up, based on the increasing level of home sales and higher prices. Home prices have risen by as much as 50% in some of China’s most popular cities over the past year, pointing to potential shortages in comparison to rising demand. The clarification here is that this trend is still held within a few key cities, while the excess backlog in real estate supply across the whole of China is still fairly big. At the same time there are some who fear that this is more of a bubble rather than an indicator as to the state of real demand. Efforts have been made by the central government to push demand for the housing markets outside the main five hottest markets, yet the results have been meagre so far”, Allied’s analyst stated.

In conclusion, “after the dissipation of the initial hype, the fog has cleared to the reality that little is clear as of yet as to the true effectiveness of China’s next growth stimulus. The dry bulk market may have bolstered slightly over the past week, but it’s too early to have been caused by any shift in fundamentals from anything decided in Beijing this past week”, Lazaridis concluded.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

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