* Capesize charter rates trend lower on Thursday - broker
* Panamax rates expected to continue to decline - broker
By Keith Wallis
SINGAPORE, Nov 13 (Reuters) - Rates for capesize bulk carriers on key Asian routes could rebound next week if chartering activity increases, although gains would be capped with plenty of ships available, brokers said.
Capesize freight rates on trade routes from Australia and Brazil to China continued to trend down on Thursday in a quiet chartering market, brokers said.
But a revival in rates would be sparked if major iron ore miners such as Rio Tinto, Fortescue Metals Group and Vale remain active and tighten tonnage supply, brokers said.
“There have been a few fixtures this week from FMG, which has not been in the market for some time. Rio has been in the market and Vale has done a few fixtures this week,” said a Singapore-based capesize broker on Thursday.
FMG chartered several ships at $8.65-$8.90 per tonne on Thursday for voyages from Australia to China, brokers said.
That was after rates for the Western Australia-China route slipped to $9.00 per tonne on Wednesday from $9.42 a week earlier.
“There have been a number of vessels which have fixed out to the east, thus reducing the available tonnage to perform transatlantic cargoes and this can put pressure on the rates,” Norwegian ship broker Fearnley said in a weekly note on Wednesday.
Rates for voyages on the Brazil-China route were trending lower on Thursday, with charterers offering $21.50 per tonne compared with $22.15 on Wednesday and $25 a week earlier.
Rates in the smaller panamax market lost steam as the market became over-tonnaged on reduced chartering activity, brokers said. The trend is expected to continue into next week, a Singapore-based panamax broker said on Thursday.
Rates for a panamax transpacific voyage fell to $10,881 per day on Wednesday against $11,744 last week.
Freight rates for smaller supramax bulk carriers rebounded slightly, with transpacific rates from China rising to about $9,000 per day this week compared with $8,000 last week, brokers said.
The Baltic Exchange’s main sea freight index closed at 1,327 points on Wednesday, down from 1,464 points last week. Technical analysis showed the benchmark is expected to fall to 1,291 in a week, as it has broken a support at 1,403. (Reporting By Keith Wallis; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)