Baltic index inches up, sees best month on record

June 30 (Reuters) - The Baltic Exchange’s main sea freight index edged higher on Tuesday, helped by gains in supramax and panamax vessel rates, and marked its best month on record.

* The Baltic dry index, which tracks rates for ships ferrying dry bulk commodities and reflects rates for capesize, panamax and supramax vessels, rose 5 points, or 0.3%, to 1,799.

* The index surged about 257% in June, driven by a pick-up in iron ore demand from China, following the easing of coronavirus-led lockdowns in many countries.

* The Baltic capesize index, which had fallen to -48 in mid-May, eased 5 points, to 4,320.

* Average daily earnings for capesizes, which typically transport cargoes of 170,000 tonnes to 180,000 tonnes, including iron ore and coal, rose by $79 to $30,857.

* Iron ore import demand in China is the key driver of the recent rally in capesize rates to more than $30,000 per day, Randy Giveans, vice-president, equity research, at Jefferies said in a note.

* “Brazilian production has stabilized and Chinese iron ore inventories are at 3-year lows, which should lead to a new restocking period.”

* The panamax index inched up by a point to 1,257.

* Average daily earnings for panamaxes, which usually carry coal or grain cargoes of about 60,000 tonnes to 70,000 tonnes, was up by $8 at $11,315.

* The supramax index was 4 points higher at 683. (Reporting by Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru; Editing by Ramakrishnan M.)