Owners with panamax tonnage trading in the Pacific region are heading for another bumper week as coal import into China and continued buoyancy in the South American grain trade keep the market alive.
"Panamax owners this week could see rates for a north Pacific round voyage hit a record high for this year," said a Singapore-based broker.  He forecast that charter rates on this route – covering grain shipped from Canada to Southeast Asia – could climb past $34,000 per day by next Friday.  "This is the highest they have been all year and will beat the average of around $33,000 per day seen in early January," he added.
The broker said the index level was slightly more than $31,300 per day, but owners were already asking for $32,500-$33,000 per day.
"Prompt tonnage is carrying a rates premium, but even Pacific panamax owners fixing in late April are seeking higher rates," the broker said.
A Hong Kong-based broker agreed and thought a shortage of available tonnage was brewing in the Pacific.
Brokers said the coal fixtures included Transgrain, which took the 1995-built 75,473dwt Austin for a voyage from the east coast of Australia to China at $31,500 per day.  Daiichi fixed the 2005-built 75,397dwt Navios Hope for a voyage from eastern Australia to Japan at $32,250 per day.
They said Toepfer had fixed the 1997-Pacific voyage carrying grain to Japan at $29,500 per day.