Plagued by overcapacity, dry shipping rates for things such as iron ore, grains, and coal have taken quite a beating the last few years. Stock prices of many shipping companies have likewise plummeted to record lows. Some of them now trade at a fraction of their book values as low rates make it difficult for shippers to turn a profit. However, that grim situation may now be changing for the better.
Huge surge in shipping rates
The Baltic Dry Index, which measures the dry-shipped goods’ shipping rates by sea, saw a 19% jump last week — the biggest jump in more than two years. So far this week it’s looking like another record — up another 20% as of September 12 for a 43% rise in just the last two weeks. Demand for iron ore out of China seems to be causing surge, and China’s seasonally strongest period for the commodity doesn’t even begin until October. Soy and grain exports have been predicted to rise through the end of the year as well, according to US Department of Agriculture. If that proves true, expect shipping rates to keep rising.
How to invest in response to surging shipping rates
All other things being equal, every additional dollar in shipping rates falls directly to a shipper’s bottom line. Rising rates can make an enormous impact on shipping companies’ financials; just as falling rates hurt them, rising rates can make them go right back up.