Despite the softening in shipping rates over the last few days, some analysts have therefore taken heart: Chinese steel prices have shown no signs of dropping off -- and this, they say, should protect shipping rates -- and, evidently, shipping stock prices -- from a severe retrenchment. Over the short-term, though, the major mining concerns have backed away from the shipping spot market to a large degree. Though Rio Tinto did book a capesize on the Australia to China route for $18.50 a ton on Tuesday, that's down from the $20 a ton the same route obtained a day earlier. Over the long-term, the concern remains the same: everyone still worries about a coming glut of dry-bulk ships, as fleets of newbuildings ordered during the boom years are expected to come into service next year. Gregory Lewis, a stock analyst at Credit Suisse ( CS), said in a note that an informal survey of Greek shipping operators showed that they foresee asset values for dry-bulk ships themselves to fall next year by 5% to 10%. On Tuesday, nearly all U.S.-listed dry-bulk equities were in the red, if moderately so. Leading the decliners for much of the session was Star Bulk Carriers ( SBLK), which reported its third-quarter earnings Monday after the bell. The Greek outfit beat Wall Street expectations, but did so on the back of $2.8 million in gains on its positions in FFA contracts, or shipping-rate futures, according to Dahlman Rose analyst Omar Nokta. Many companies use FFAs as a hedging instrument.