Baltic index hits 2-1/2-month peak on strong demand across vessels

March 8 (Reuters) - The Baltic Exchange's dry bulk sea freight index (.BADI) rose to its highest level in 2-1/2 months on Tuesday, helped by higher rates across its vessel segments.

* The overall index, which factors in rates for capesize, panamax, supramax and handysize shipping vessels, rose 117 points to 2,352 points, its highest since Dec. 20.

* The capesize index (.BACI) gained 147 points to 1,896 points.

* Average daily earnings for capesizes, which typically transport 150,000-tonne cargoes such as iron ore and coal, increased $1,213 to $15,721.

* China's stainless steel futures soared to a record high on Tuesday, as nickel prices more than doubled on concerns over supply from Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

* The panamax index (.BPNI) was up 140 points at 3,041 points, its highest since Dec. 10.

* Average daily earnings for panamaxes, which usually carry coal or grain cargoes of about 60,000 tonnes to 70,000 tonnes, increased $1,254 to $27,367.

* The supramax index (.BSIS) rose 93 points, its highest in more than four months to 2,733 points.

Reporting by Rahul Paswan in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi

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