Asian Panamax freight rates for dry bulk cargo edged up slightly this week in slow trade due to New Year holidays, Reuters reported
. But the outlook for the Panamax sector remained healthy as activity would pick up momentum after the holiday period and the arrival of new ships was unlikely to affect Panamax rates before April, brokers said. The freight rates for the heavy grain Panamax benchmark route, U.S. Gulf to Japan, were quoted higher at $22.493 a ton compared with $22.208 two weeks earlier, brokers said.
Panamax rates for the U.S. Pacific route were indicated at $16.543 per ton, up from $16.325 two weeks ago. Brokers said reported fixtures had been slightly quieter as Christmas and New Year holidays kept chartering businesses slow. They did not expect too much movement in the dry bulk carrier market until
next week as grain trade appeared to be subdued.
"The market is unlikely to get back to normal trading levels before next week as a limited number of fixtures was reported," said one Taipei-based shipping agent said.
On the timecharter front, one shipbroker said rates for the U.S. Gulf to Japan route
were quoted at around $11,500 with rates for the Pacific route at $12,000. However, one domestic broker said he expected freight rates to show signs of slight weakness later in the month as the coming Lunar New Year holidays would slow vessel orders. The Chinese New Year falls on January 24 and offices in the Chinese community are likely to remain shut until as late as January 28.