Palm & Veg Report, March 2018

Most markets have been driving along at a reasonable pace although it has felt at times as if the hand brake may have been left half on in some areas! A couple of owners reported better than expected activity in the West but the markets out in Asia have been a little dreary, partly due to the Chinese New Year festivities which may have temporarily paralysed any new business done. Having said that we witnessed an explosion of sulphuric acid fixtures from Asia and India to Brazil, Europe and South America last month and this took out more than a handful of stainless steel vessels from the Asian markets.

The POC conference in KL didn’t throw up anything particularly noteworthy from a shipper perspective but overall the mood was noticeably more up beat this year compared to last year so that’s a plus. It’s too early to know how much of this renewed optimism will translate into better returns for the industry as we move forward but hopefully the second and third quarters of 2018 will at the very least outperform the second and third quarters of 2017 as they were positively awful.

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Palm & Veg Report, February 2018

A New Year carries new challenges and this year is proving to be no different from many others. The one difference is that improved economic growth in the United States combined with a 4% rise in global GDP this year is very positive but how much of this encouraging economic data will translate into dollars and cents for our struggling industry remains the big unknown. CPP markets rallied last month but soon fizzled out last week and these markets will continue to influence edible rates in 2018. We shouldn't forget that the Stone Age didn't end because we ran out of stone, and the oil age won't end before the world runs out of oil, however fears about climate change and pollution is forcing governments to find alternative solutions to our energy demands.

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Palm & Veg Report, January 2018

This time last year we voiced concerns about the year ahead because the outlook was properly bleak. Well "hey presto" most shipping markets did exactly as we predicted they would, they massively underperformed especially during the first six months of the year! Thankfully a number of markets did manage to perk up during the last quarter of the year, palm in particular, and some of this momentum has even been carried into the New Year. Sadly many other markets are still floundering leaving us with somewhat mixed emotions about how 2018 will unfold. The optimist amongst us believe that 2018 will be a better year than last year and it looks highly unlikely that markets will decline to the lows we witnessed in the second quarter of 2017 but the realists in us also know that it will be a hard slog. So try and remain optimistic and let's focus on the challenges that lie ahead and try and help, not hinder each other, during the next 12 months.

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Palm & Veg Report, December 2017

Global shipping markets perked up in November and against the odds some trade routes have outperformed earlier predictions. So with a little bit of luck, we will finish the year on a high. Exports from South America have been extremely slow of late, so that market remains depressed. However on a more upbeat note we are continuing to see measured improvements in many other parts of the world, including some of those lack lustre CPP trades where average earnings have been perking up quite a bit.

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Palm & Veg Report, November 2017

The two most commonly used words in the shipping market at the moment are 'let's hope'.

Global freight markets are broadly unchanged from a month ago; miserable in the West, better in the East. A numbers of owners, particularly those operating in the dry and chemical tanker sectors are a little more optimistic about the future, although the spot markets are still littered with landmines. Improvements in global trade growth, firming freight rates, especially in the dry bulk sectors, and a reduced order book seem to be raising confidence across the industry as a whole. The million dollar question is when can the industry convert some of this renewed optimist into results?

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Palm & Veg Report, October 2017

There has been an abundance of bad news for most of 2017, and we know that bad news often sells better than good news but for change we are pleased to be able to report some good news especially on some of the markets East of Suez. CPP shipments from the AG were recently described as spicy, tropical oil shipments have been bursting with activity across all sectors and we have even seen an up tick in the chemical markets in Asia, partly attributed to the recent weather disruptions in the US Gulf. Unfortunately the CPP markets in the Atlantic are currently averaging US$ 5/6,000 dollar p/d so those markets are continuing to flounder and the phosphoric acid flows from North Africa to India have been heavily disrupted recently. We would be lying if we said the chemical and edible oil markets in the West have been strong because they have certainly not been very exciting but certain sectors have been described as 'better than expected'.

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Palm & Veg Report, September 2017

The palm oil markets have been extremely effervescent over the last few months and August was certainly no exception and we think the last quarter of the year could be quite interesting to follow especially if the Asian markets can sustain their current momentum. Sadly that is where the good news ends as virtually all the other edible oil markets have been far less exciting, but that is probably for seasonality reasons rather than anything else. We can say with some certainty that we were not the only people who were kept busy last month not only dealing with a tighter market but also managing logistical problems brought about by delays to vessels out in the Fareast, a problem which unfortunately looks set to continue as activity builds.

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Palm & Veg Report, August 2017

We are pleased to report that the tropical markets are finally out performing many of the other markets at the moment and most of the palm oil trade lanes can be described as 'busy', a word we have not used for an awfully long time. Chemical exports from Asia are also picking up and although the CPP markets in the Far East are not brilliant they are also significantly better than the CPP markets are in the West at present. The Atlantic basket is currently averaging US$ 5,000 per day and certain routes have even dipped into negative earnings territory, so the CPP reports do not make for good reading. The vegetable oil markets from South America have been reasonably busy but exports from the Black sea have been a little sluggish of late.

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Palm & Veg Report, July 2017

The edible oil markets are now trending at more or less the same levels as they were this time last summer and not surprisingly my enthusiasm for writing reports is rapidly waning because there is still very little exciting news to report. That being said, the CPP markets in the West and the East did pick up momentum last month, tonnage lists in Asia are tightening and MR earnings are now back in the low-mid teens again. Crude oil values have slumped back to the mid-high 40 US$ per barrel level again and the story of oil weakness remains high on the agenda. Freight values are virtually unchanged on almost all vegetable oil trade routes but they are, as we reported earlier, not expected to fall any further in the short to medium term.

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Palm & Veg Report, June 2017

If you own or operate ships or suffer from acute acrophobia then please refrain from looking at the graphs on the pages overleaf as the steep drop this year could make your knees wobble and make your eyes rain. The tropical oil markets are experiencing a very similar trend to last year when freight rates quickly soften in the run up to summer as unprecedented competition for cargo persists. Palm oil exports from Malaysia and Indonesia were actually quite strong in May and had this not been the case then the markets would probably look an awful lot worse than it does now! The Sunflower and Soya bean oil markets from South America and the Black sea are broadly unchanged from a month ago and freight rates are currently flat lining on virtually every trade lane. Crude oil prices have not really budged despite the diplomatic turmoil in the Middle East and the recent extension of production cuts by all the major producers.

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Palm & Veg Report, May 2017

If you thought the shipping markets looked grim a few months ago then look away now because they just got a lot worse. The short term prognosis for all the vegetable oil trade lanes is worryingly unsettled and it looks highly likely that we are heading for another nail biting summer. The clean petroleum markets have been dropping like a stone since our last report both in the Western Hemisphere as well as out in the Far East and this seems to be dragging all the other markets down with it. On a more positive note we have seen a fairly healthy number of palm oil and vegetable cargoes fixed over the last month and, according to the chief economist of the IMF, the world economy is supposedly gaining momentum again. The dry cargo markets are slowly showing some signs of life again so perhaps (fingers and toes crossed) this will eventually stimulate demand in the liquid markets too.

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Palm & Veg Report, April 2017

The clean petroleum markets may have picked up a lot of momentum in the West, which has provided ship owners with a welcomed boost in returns, but the rest of the shipping markets are positively lacklustre and profound uncertainty still persists in virtually ever other sector of the market. If we do not get a black swan event soon, where something occurs that is extremely difficult to predict, then I fear we are in for a long hot difficult summer. On a lighter note, we wonder whether the Norwegian Shipping community was included in the recent happiness poll, which placed Norway ahead of the Danes as officially the happiest place to be on Earth.

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