Freight rates for large capesize dry cargo ships on key Asian routes are set to remain around current levels next week on buoyant cargo volumes, ship brokers said.
"The market is firm but stable with (enough) cargo volume to support current freight rates," a Shanghai-based capesize broker said on Thursday.
"Mostly it is iron ore, but there is some coal cargo. If there is more coal the market will be more active, but I don't see that happening yet. Rates will be at a similar level next week," the broker said.
"Traders are not making good money to increase coal volumes," the broker added.
That came as coal imports into China climbed 6.8 percent to 129.3 million tons in the first seven months of this year, although imports dipped 2.7 percent to 21.2 million in July compared with June, shipbroker Banchero Costa said in a dry bulk report.
The market remained optimistic the recent rise in capesize freight gains would continue into the final three months of the year, traditionally the strongest period for the dry bulk market.
"There is a bit more improvement in rates – one has got to believe there is going to be a bit of a spike in rates in the fourth quarter," said a Singapore-based capesize broker.
But charterers would also work to try to put a ceiling on prices, brokers said.
"If the market sees some positive change in rates, charterers will hide cargoes to cool down the market," the Shanghai broker said.
Capesize charter rates for the Western Australia-China route were around $4.60 per ton on Wednesday, up from $4.51 per ton last Wednesday, although they were trending lower from earlier this week.
Freight rates from Brazil to China rose to $9.65 per ton on Wednesday against $9.30 per ton a week earlier, close to the highest level since early July.
"Seasonally we should be entering the most active period and freight rates should be increasing simultaneously," Norwegian ship broker Fearnley said in a note on Wednesday.
Charter rates for smaller panamax vessels for a north Pacific round-trip voyage slipped to $5,158 per day on Wednesday down from $5,402 per day on Wednesday on the same day last week in a "flat" market, Fearnley said in a note.
Freight rates in the Far East for smaller supramax vessels were around $7,500-$7,800 per day for charters from Singapore to China and around $9,000 per day to India, Fearnley said.
"The Southeast Asian market seems to have been taking a breather with charterers holding off from a very heated market," Fearnley said.
The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index rose to 711 on Wednesday from 706 last week.
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