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Baltic sea index rises, smaller vessels firm

54818 fcras 24/3 2012 12:40

Saturday, 24 March 2012 ' 00:00

The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index, which tracks rates for ships carrying dry commodities, rose further on Friday as three-year low rates in the capesize market were countered by higher rates for smaller vessels.

The main index, which reflects the daily freight market rates of capesize, panamax, supramax and handysize dry bulk transport vessels, rose 6 points, or 0.67 percent, to 908 points.

The BDI has been slowly climbing higher over the past two months, but even 2,000 points seems like a mountainous journey given that it took 35 trading days to go from 650 points to 900," Arctic Securities analyst Erik Nikolai Stavseth said.

Growing ship supply has been outpacing commodity demand which, coupled with fears of a slowdown in top commodity consumer China, is expected to cap dry bulk freight rates.

The Baltic's capesize index dropped 1.08 percent to 1,369 points, with average daily earnings for capesizes falling to $4,546, lows not seen since December 2008.

Earnings for capesizes, which typically transport 150,000 tonne cargoes such as iron ore and coal, have fallen more than 83 percent this year.

Stavseth, however, said he expected rates to pick up in the near term helped by firm steel and iron ore prices.

"We think the firming steel prices and iron ore prices are positive news for the capesize market, and latest activity out of Brazil and Australia indicates higher levels of interest," Stavseth said.

Shipments of iron ore, a raw material for steel, account for around a third of seaborne volumes on the larger capesizes.

Iron ore prices have largely stayed near four-month highs of $145 reached last week, with tight supply supporting the raw material.

The Baltic's panamax index gained 0.97 percent to 1,036 points, with average daily earnings for panamaxes, which usually transport 60,000 to 70,000 tonne cargoes of coal or grains, rising to $8,288.

The overall index, which gauges the cost of shipping commodities such as iron ore, cement, grain, coal and fertiliser is down about 48 percent this year.

It has risen 34 points, or about 4 percent, this week

Source: Reuters

Baltic Exchange: