Trading routes open

The coal and dry bulk shipping markets are tightly intertwined and the strong influence of each on the other provides some interesting arbitrage opportunities, which are starting to draw wider attention, writes Barry Parker

Coal has now eclipsed grain as the leading driver of spot freight prices. In turn, during the 2003 to 2004 surge in freight prices, the cost of freight as a percentage of a coal trade grew to as much as 10%. The interdependency of these markets has generated new trading interest in recent months.

According to London-based Clarkson Research, tons of total shipments of bulk commodities rose 6% and 7% in 2003 and 2004 respectively, with shipments to Asia increasing the most. Freight rates on

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