* Capesize freight rates to remain flat - Shanghai broker
* Panamax rates to climb on healthy chartering volume - brokers
By Keith Wallis
SINGAPORE, March 5 (Reuters) - Rates for capesize bulk carriers, which have been hovering close to six-year lows for the last two months, are likely to remain relatively flat next week as excess tonnage continues to weigh on the market, brokers said.
That comes despite a flurry of chartering activity this week, with at least 10 capesize fixtures from Western Australia on Wednesday, Norwegian ship broker Fearnley said. Vale was also active, fixing ships from Brazil to China, Reuters freight data showed.
But this activity “failed dismally to move the market at all,” Fearnley said in a weekly research note on Wednesday.
“There were quite a lot of west Australian cargoes but rates are still flat,” a Shanghai-based capesize broker said on Thursday.
Rates are likely to remain flat next week on routes from both Australia and Brazil even if the heightened fixture activity is maintained, the broker added.
More owners had sent ships to the Atlantic in the hope of securing cargo from Brazil, creating “an oversupply (of tonnage) and correspondingly depressed rates,” Fearnley said.
Charter rates for the Western Australia-China route rose to $4.51 per tonne on Wednesday, compared with $4.40 a week earlier.
This is slightly higher than the prevailing rate of $4.40-$4.45 per tonne paid by Rio Tinto and BHP Billiton to charter more than 10 ships in the past five sessions, Reuters freight data showed.
Rates are still close to $4.12 per tonne reached on Jan. 12, the lowest since December 2008.
Rates for the Brazil-China route slipped to $10.37 per tonne on Wednesday against $10.45 a week earlier. Rates hit $9.65 per tonne on Jan. 9, the lowest since January 2009.
Freight rates in the smaller panamax market could continue to climb next week on healthy chartering activity, brokers said.
Fearnley and rival broker ICAP said charterers are paying about $6,000 per day for a Pacific round trip, around $1,000 higher than the index level.
Rates for a panamax transpacific voyage rose to $5,003 per day on Wednesday, up from $4,063 per day last Wednesday and the highest since Jan. 20.
Freight rates for smaller supramax bulk carriers climbed this week to around $7,000 per day for a round trip to the west coast of India, against $6,000 last week, Fearnley said.
The Baltic Exchange’s main sea freight index closed up at 559 on Wednesday, up from 524 a week ago. (Reporting By Keith Wallis; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)