Strong capesize, panamax rates drive Baltic index

Tue Oct 16, 2012 12:05pm EDT

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Oct 16 (Reuters) - The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index, tracking rates for ships carrying dry commodities, rose on Tuesday as rates continued to rise for capesize and panamax ships.

The overall index, which reflects daily freight market prices for capesize, panamax, supramax and handysize dry bulk transport vessels, rose 4.25 percent to 981 points.

The Baltic's capesize index rose 7.3 percent to 1,914 points.

Average daily earnings for capesizes, which usually transport 150,000-tonne cargoes such as iron ore and coal, were up $1,409 to $12,965.

Over the past three weeks there were clearing up of tonnage lists in both Atlantic and Pacific basins and there has been minimal open vessels available, creating lot of optimism for the owners for higher rates, said George Lazaridis, head of research with Greek shipbroker, Intermodal.

However, over the long term, Lazaridis said there are lots of negative sentiments for the capesizes like slower steel production, decrease in demand for shipping iron ore due to uncertainty over Chinese demand and falling prices.

Spot iron ore slipped on Tuesday as lower steel prices in top market China discouraged steel mills from buying more of the raw material after some replenished stockpiles last week.

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 panamax index rose 2.15 percent to 904 points, with average daily earnings up $158 at $7,213.

Panamaxes typically transport 60,000-70,000-tonne cargoes of coal or grain.

Demand for coal fixtures across both the Pacific and Atlantic basins drove panamax rates high, Lazaridis said.

Average daily earnings for handysize ships were down $11 at$6,522, while those of supramax ships were down $143 at $7,889. (Reporting by NR Sethuraman in Bangalore; editing by James Jukwey)

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