Baltic index extends retreat as vessel demand slips

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The Baltic Exchange’s main sea freight index extended decline for a fourth straight session on Thursday, pressured by lower rates across all vessel segments.

The overall index, which factors in rates for capesize, panamax and supramax shipping vessels carrying dry bulk commodities, fell 26 points, or 2.3%, to 1,112 – its lowest in over a week.

The capesize index dipped 63 points, or 3.5%, to 1,759.

Average daily earnings for capesizes, which typically transport 150,000-tonne cargoes such as iron ore and coal, decreased $524 to $14,589.

Although activity for capesizes has been good over the last week amid steady demand from Brazil and West Africa, rates are “going nowhere,” shipbroker Fearnleys said in a weekly note dated Wednesday, adding there’s been some push in forward freight agreement (FFA) values, prompting some short-period fixing.

Freight derivatives or FFAs allow a buyer to take a position on where freight rates will stand at a point in the future.

Meanwhile, Dalian iron ore futures climbed to their highest levels in 15 weeks on optimism around prospects of further stimulus to support China’s economic recovery, but prices in Singapore were subdued.

The panamax index was down 17 points, or 1.6%, at 1,041, declining for the eighth straight session.

Fearnleys said minimal demand from Asia and lower activity in the Atlantic routes were among the factors that have impacted the panamax rates.

Average daily earnings for panamaxes, which usually carry coal or grain cargoes of about 60,000 to 70,000 tonnes, decreased $158 to $9,368.

Among smaller vessels, the supramax index fell 2 points to 750.

Source: Reuters

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