While panamax cargo Inquiries from the U.S. Gulf have increased, the additional business was not expected to have much effect on freight rates, brokers said on Tuesday.
Fixtures for the benchmark U.S. Gulf to Japan heavy grain route were noted in the $22 per ton region last week, but shipbrokers now suggest that a rate within $21 per ton is more likely.
Evidence for this is seen in the latest U.S. Gulf to Taiwan fixture, for which charterers were reported to have paid $21 per ton of heavy grain on a fixture that specified loading between December 28 and January 8 for a 56,000-ton cargo.
As the U.S. Gulf to Japan market tends to follow a $.50 premium basis shipments destined for Taiwan, a $21.50 per ton fixture for heavy grain shipments heading for Japan is becoming an increasing possibility, brokers said.
Moreover, the latest Baltic Panamax Index saw the relevant route 2 figure ease back $.30 to $21.97 per ton on Tuesday afternoon.
The reported charter of the 1995-built 75,484 dwt Golden Nerina illustrated the weaker Atlantic panamax market
Brokers reported that Transfield has chartered the ship for a 60,000 ton heavy grain cargo. The grain is scheduled to load in the Mississippi between December 18 and 21 and is destined for Hamburg at a freight rate of $12.25 per ton.
While short-term forecasts remain depressed for the Atlantic Panamax grain
trades, however, Pacific rates appeared to be finely balanced, brokers said.