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Panamax Rates Help Baltic Shipping Index To Highest This Year

By MarEx 2013-03-13 13:29:00

The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index, used to track rates for ships carrying dry bulk commodities, was up for the 11th straight day on growing rates for panamax vessels.

The overall index, which factors in the average daily earnings of capesize, panamax, supramax and handysize dry bulk transport vessels, rose 10 points, or about 1.2 percent, to 875 points on Wednesday, its highest level this year.

"The dry bulk market has gained for a third week in a row, with panamax rates going from strength to strength," Greek ship broker Intermodal said in a weekly note.

The Baltic's panamax index was up 7 points, or 0.62 percent, to 1,138 points.

The daily average earnings for panamaxes, which typically carry coal or grain cargoes between 60,000 and 70,000 tonnes, gained $53 to reach $9,105 on Wednesday, up about 64.5 percent this year.

"The Panamax segment has experienced a good period lately thanks to the grain season in South America soaking up vessels from both the Pacific and Atlantic," shipbroker Fearnleys said in a report.

Private Chinese importers seized on a dip in prices and have bought about 600,000 tonnes of new-crop U.S. corn since February, traders said.

The capesize index remained flat at 1,314 points, with average daily earnings of capesize ships, which usually transport 150,000-tonne cargoes such as iron ore and coal, up $83 at $4,989.

Shipments of iron ore, a raw material for steel production, account for about a third of seaborne volumes on the larger capesizes, and their price developments remained a key factor for dry freight, brokers said.

Spot iron ore prices hit their lowest since late December as steel mills in China slow purchases, prompting some traders to unload stocks of the raw material.

Average daily earnings were up for both handysize and supramax ships, at $7,318 and $9,440 respectively.

The main index, which gauges the cost of shipping commodities, such as iron ore, cement, grain, coal and fertilisers, has climbed about 25 percent this year.

By Naveen Arul, Editing by David Goodman (c) Thompson Reuters