* Capesizes fall on weak West Australia-China benchmark
* Decline in overall index slowing
By Krishna Das
BANGALORE, July 20 The Baltic Exchange's main
sea freight index , which tracks rates to ship dry
commodities, remained negative for the ninth straight session on
Wednesday as trading stayed subdued and a West Australia to
China benchmark weakened.
The index -- which gauges the cost of shipping commodities
such as iron ore, cement, grain, coal and fertiliser -- fell 2
points, or 0.15 percent, to 1,328 points. The overall index has
traded between 1,300-1,500 points this year, coming under
pressure as ship oversupply outpaces demand.
"West Australia to China was down 2.6 percent. That specific
benchmark route hurt the (capesize index)," an analyst said. "As
decline is slowing, the overall index is kind of bottoming here.
But there is still less cargo hitting the water."
Dry bulk vessel congestion at Australian, Brazilian, Indian
and Chinese ports has risen to its highest since the beginning
of the year, and is now equivalent to over 10 percent of the
entire bulk fleet, ICAP said on Tuesday.
The Baltic's capesize index fell 0.96 percent, with
average earnings lower at $11,054. Capesizes haul 150,000 tonne
cargoes such as iron ore and coal.
"The lack of direction in the market has continued this week
but now showing signs of weakening," broker Fearnleys said in a
The Baltic's panamax index inched down 0.32 percent,
with average daily earnings falling to $12,261.
"Although the week started with some fresh cargoes entering
the Atlantic market, this has not yet been sufficient to halt
last week's slide," ICAP said.
"Spot tonnage remains under pressure in the Pacific basin as
the decline in rates persists."
Cantor Fitzgerald said in a report that coal demand in the
Pacific has not been adequate to clear vessels out, and the
ballasting of vessels from the Indian Ocean to the U.S. Gulf
searching for grain cargoes caused an oversupply of ships.
(Reporting by Krishna N Das in Bangalore; Editing by Anthony