* Shares traded on NYSE under symbol “BALT”
* Stock drops 0.3 percent in debut (Recasts first paragraph, adds background)
NEW YORK, March 10 (Reuters) - Investors proved cautious about the global economy on Wednesday, rallying enough confidence to allow an initial public offering of dry bulk shipper Baltic Trading Ltd BALT.N to move forward within the expected range, but letting it trade down about 0.3 percent in its debut.
Baltic plans to operate six ships in the global spot market handling cargoes such as iron ore, coal, grain, and steel products. It will be managed by Genco Shipping & Trading Ltd GNK.N, which formed the company in October.
The volatile spot shipping industry is a closely watched indicator of the global economy because it reflects demand for basic goods from places like China.
“The demand side is looking pretty robust, actually,” said Cantor Fitzgerald analyst Natasha Boyden.
Boyden said strong demand for commodity imports from China, especially for iron ore, is buoying the shipping industry.
“February’s imports were about 5 percent over January and 2009 imports hit around 613 million tons. In 2010 we expect it to be about 662,” she said.
Boyden said an expected increase of about 14 percent in the size of the global shipping fleet could weigh on the market, but demand is robust.
The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index .BADI, which tracks the cost of shipping dry commodities, traded at 3230 on Wednesday.
The index was trading over 11000 as recently as June 2008, but plummeted below 1000 during the credit crisis in the fourth quarter of that year.
A second shipping company, crude and fuel oil transporter Crude Carriers Corp, is expected to price its IPO later this week.
Both dry bulk and tanker companies are facing tighter credit conditions as banks restrict financing. Prospects for the dry bulk sector are uncertain due to worries over the pace of the global economic recovery.
Baltic Trading does not currently own any ships, but has purchase agreements for six. It posted a net loss of $15,820 between its incorporation and Dec. 31.
Shares of the company, which trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol “BALT,” closed at $13.96, down 0.3 percent. The New York City-based company sold 16.3 million shares at $14 each on Tuesday, raising about $228.2 million.
It had planned to sell 16.3 million shares for between $14 and $16 each.
Many of the companies making initial public offerings so far this year have cut the number of shares they hoped to sell and the price range to complete their deals. Some deals have been postponed or shelved.
Baltic Trading's underwriters were led by Morgan Stanley MS.N and Dahlman Rose & Co. (Reporting by Clare Baldwin, additional reporting by Jonathan Saul in London; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn, Dave Zimmerman and Steve Orlofsky)
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