According to MANA, The average weighted time charter on the Baltic Exchange fell to $12,396 per day at the close on Friday from $14,136 a week ago.
According to Fearnleys, rates declined on the shorter voyages such as from Australia to China, despite activity as charterers scurried to cover positions ahead of the holidays.
“The expectation is positive for the longer term, hence, owners are willing to discount their rate for shorter duration business,” the broker said in a note, adding that medium-term and long-term period charters are seeing strong interest, leading to higher hire rates.
Maritime Strategies International said in a report this week that it forecasts a 7% rise in iron ore imports into China this year versus 2017, as it expects steel production to rise by 1.5% even though steel consumption should see a drop of 1.3%.
The consultancy expects spot capesize earnings of $14,300 per day in April and $17,500 per day in July.
“Excess capacity and a forecasted fall in steel prices” will thus provide support for China’s steel exports, MSI said, adding that a number of key iron ore supply additions in Australia and Brazil will account for incremental trade demand.
Vale said in a production report on Friday it is expecting to produce 390m tonnes of iron ore this year, higher than last year as its S11D mine in Brazil continues to ramp up.
The panamax market saw average weighted time charter earnings inch up 1.9% to $10,216 per day on the Baltic Exchange versus a week ago.
"Coal traders are very positive for short-term demand (in China) underpinned by low supply of domestic material," MSI said, adding that it expects a 5.7% rise in coal imports from India this year.
It expects earnings of $12,000 per day in April, and $11,500 per day in July.
Meanwhile, grains will continue to see growth, propelled by China's insatiable appetite for soyabean imports due to ever-rising meat consumption, according to Clarksons.
And it is not just China, but other countries in Southeast Asia, that have contributed to the growth in global grains trade due to rapid economic development, it said, adding that these countries imported 117m tonnes of grain in the 2016-17 season, up 51% from the start of the decade, and representing 17% of global growth since then.
Minor bulks trade should also support the dry bulk market, according to MSI, which anticipates average earnings for handysize and supramax of $11,600 per day in April and $11,000 in July.
The average weighted time charter earnings for supramax inched up 2.1% in the week to $9,597 per day on the Baltic Exchange, while the average handysize earnings declined by 2.1% to $7,530 per day.