Transportation and Export Report: Jay O’Neil, O’Neil Commodity Consulting: We are certainly in the doldrums of a Lunar New Year Holiday period and the freight markets are feeling it. Vessel chartering activity is slow and quiet. As anticipated, first quarter 2018 cargo demand is down from the last half of 2017 and rates are slipping. Freight markets will likely go sideways until charterers return from the holiday. Then, the big question will be as follows: will sufficient demand build to support the surplus in vessel capacity? I believe we still have to expect that rates will be higher in the last half of the year, but it may be a slow and bumpy climb.

Below is a recent history of freight values for Capesize vessels of iron ore from Western Australia to South China:

The charts below represent 2017 annual totals versus 2016 annual totals for container shipments to Malaysia.