Baltic index gains as vessel rates edge higher

Feb 19 (Reuters) - The Baltic Exchange’s main sea freight index rose on Wednesday as rates improved across all vessel segments, even as shipping activity remained subdued due to the coronavirus outbreak in China.

* The Baltic index, which tracks rates for capesize, panamax and supramax vessels that ferry dry bulk commodities, rose 15 points, or 3.3%, to 465, the highest since Feb. 3.

* The capesize index gained for a third straight session, up 16 points but still at -241.

* “With trading still impeded by the virus outbreak and weather conditions across both Australia and Brazil keeping activity in check, the status quo remained negative for the big bulkers,” ship broker Intermodal said in a weekly research note on Tuesday.

* Average daily earnings for capesizes, which typically transport 170,000 to 180,000 tonne cargoes including iron ore and coal, rose $75 to $2,713.

* The panamax index rose 32 points, or 4.6%, to 722, the highest since Jan. 22.

* “Earnings for the size substantially outperformed the market on the back of a firming South America and healthier demand levels out of the Pacific region that enjoyed an uptick in sentiment just before the weekend,” analysts at Intermodal said.

* Average daily earnings for panamaxes, which usually carry coal or grain cargoes of about 60,000 tonnes to 70,000 tonnes, increased $289 to $6,496.

* The supramax index rose 8 points to 489. (Reporting by Diptendu Lahiri in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)