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BDI - Smaller vessels drive Baltic index up

58326 fcras 15/6 2012 07:36

Friday, 15 June 2012 ' 00:00

The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index, tracking rates for ships carrying dry commodities, rose for a fifth straight session on Thursday as a spurt in Atlantic activity boosted rates for smaller vessels.

The overall index, a gauge of the cost of shipping commodities such as iron ore, cement, grain, coal and fertiliser, rose 10 points or 1.11 percent to 912 points.

The Baltic's panamax index rose 4.18 percent to 1,046 points, with average daily earnings for panamaxes, which typically transport 60,000-70,000 tonne cargoes of coal or grains, up $337 at $8,320.

Rates for supramax vessels were up $211 at $10,851 and those for handysizes were up $131 at $9,331.

"The previous week's drop was quite strong due to a slower week. A small increase in the Atlantic helped boost things," said George Lazaridis, head of research with Greek shipbroker Intermodal.

The Baltic's capesize index fell 2.84 percent to 1,162 points.

Average daily earnings for capesizes, which usually transport 150,000 tonne cargoes such as iron ore and coal, fell $331 to $3,657.

Weak iron ore demand in China has dragged capesize rates to levels last seen in late 2008. "Capesize average rates fell below $4,000 daily, well below operating costs of around $7,000," RS Platou Markets analysts said in a note.

The situation in the dry bulk industry looks dire with weak steel demand, although activity in the iron ore market is picking up with Chinese steel mills taking advantage of low priced iron ore, it added.

Prices for spot Australian iron ore cargoes rose on Thursday, backed by demand from main buyer China, although the uptrend in prices of the raw material may soon be cut short unless the steel market bounces back convincingly.

Iron ore shipments account for around a third of seaborne volumes on the larger capesizes, and brokers said price developments remained a key factor for dry freight.

The main index, which factors in the average daily earnings of capesize, panamax, supramax and handysize dry bulk transport vessels, has fallen about 48 percent this year.

Source: Reuters

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