Baltic index edges up on higher panamax, supramax rates

June 22 (Reuters) - The Baltic Exchange’s main sea freight index inched higher on Monday, helped by stronger demand for panamax and supramax vessels.

* The Baltic dry index, which tracks rates for ships ferrying dry bulk commodities and reflects rates for capesize, panamax and supramax vessels, rose 3 points to 1,558, its highest since Dec. 6.

* The index on Friday posted its biggest weekly gain ever, underpinned by a rebound in global commodities trading as iron ore demand from China picked up.

* The Baltic capesize index fell from a nine-month high by 28 points, or 0.7%, to 3,791.

* The index soared 150% last week and has rebounded by 3,743 points after turning negative for the second time this year in May, buoyed by a sharp pick-up in iron ore demand from China.

* “The usual metrics suggest that this upturn in (capesize)freight earnings has legs, as China’s demand for ore is buoyant due to restocking and increased infrastructure spending,” said Athens-based EastGate Shipbrokers in a note on Friday.

* “Current forecasts point to a healthy ore output from major mines; enough to support the strong Chinese demand and so far we have seen shipments from both Brazil and Australia to have picked up.”

* Average daily earnings for capesizes, which typically transport cargoes of 170,000 tonnes to 180,000 tonnes, including iron ore and coal, decreased $147 to $25,364.

* The panamax index gained 26 points, or 2.2%, to 1204.

* Average daily earnings for panamaxes, which usually carry coal or grain cargoes of about 60,000 tonnes to 70,000 tonnes, rose $237 to $10,840.

* The supramax index rose 5 points to 662. (Reporting by Nakul Iyer in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)