Panamax fixtures for end-March loading dates supported forecasts that Atlantic rates are set to move higher, shipbrokers said
. But although the Capesize move to higher ground removed resistance against a prolonged Panamax uptrend, spreading foot- and-mouth disease is threatening to dampen dry bulk spring bullishness, they added. They said that reports that the disease in Britain and France may affect European grain exports was disturbing.
However on Thursday Tunisia and Morocco, two major importers, contradicted earlier statements and said they were not banning grain imports from Europe due to concern over foot-and-mouth infection. Panamax fixtures suggest a confident market, shipbrokers said. The reported charter by Tradigrain of a Panamax to ship 55,000 tons of heavy grain from Galveston to Egypt at $15.50 a ton, is stronger than the market expected. The ship is due to be loaded end-March and the rate is much higher than the expected $14, shipbrokers said. South American business was seen in the charter of the 2000 built 74,381 dwt Pacemperor which was fixed for delivery Passero for a trip via river Plate at $11,750 daily. Redelivery is scheduled for the Far East. A steady rate was paid for the 1994 built 73,205 dwt Thalassini Tyhi which is due for delivery in Valencia end-March for an Atlantic round voyage with redelivery in the Gibraltar-Skaw range at $11,500 daily.