Freight rates for Panamaxes trading the Atlantic are holding strong but the Pacific market is now starting to weaken, shipbrokers said. "Prospects for May in the Atlantic are very good as South American business is expected to accelerate," said a shipbroker, adding that the strength in the Atlantic Panamax market was likely to continue into next month. South America's grain export season started later than expected this year and should therefore produce further opportunities for the Panamax sector in late spring, he said.
One fixture was reported for this market on Tuesday, the 1981-built Golden Glow, 63,990 dwt, for prompt delivery Piraeus to be followed by an east coast of South America round voyage for at a daily rate of $10,250.
However, in the Pacific market shipbrokers reported that the approaching holidays in the Far East have already affected Panamax freight rates
"Potential charterers for the Far East Panamax market are already clearing their desks ahead of Japanese Golden Week and subsequently fixtures have been done at lower rates," one London-based shipbroker said.
The result, brokers say, has been a fall in the Baltic Exchange's Panamax Index which slipped 17 points on Tuesday to 1,535 -- mainly on the weakness in the Pacific outweighing strength in the Atlantic market, they say. The fixture of the 72,500 dwt Nordweser, built this year also caught the interest of shipping sources who reported its charter for mid-May loading in the U.S. Gulf followed by a trip to the Far East at $11,800 daily plus a $265,000 ballast bonus. - (Reuters)