Baltic index falls for fourth straight day on weaker rates

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The Baltic Exchange’s dry bulk sea freight index slumped on Thursday for the fourth straight session, due to declines across vessel segments, with panamax rates hitting a five-month low.

The overall index, which factors in rates for capesize, panamax and supramax shipping vessels, lost 110 points, or 6.6%, to 1,554, its lowest level since Nov. 8.

Global trade declined by 1.3% from November to December 2023 as militant attacks on merchant vessels in the Red Sea led to a plunge in cargo volumes transported in that key region, a German economic institute said.

The capesize index dropped by 272 points, or 10.1%, to 2,424, extending its losing streak to the fourth session and hitting its lowest since Nov. 22.

Average daily earnings for capesize vessels, which typically transports 150,000-tonne cargoes such as iron ore and coal, decreased by $2,257 to $20,105.

Iron ore futures prices recouped losses after falling for five straight sessions.

The panamax index fell 43 points, or 2.9%, to its lowest since mid-August at 1,421, logging its tenth straight session of declines.

Average daily earnings for panamax vessels, which usually carries about 60,000 to 70,000 tons of coal or grain cargo, slipped by $383 to $12,790.

“Thermal coal demand in Asia remains subdued. Additionally, the South American grain export season has yet to start. These factors have contributed to the weakening of the (panamax) market as expected,” shipbroker Fearnleys wrote in a weekly note dated Wednesday.

Shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk said it will use rail transport to avoid the drought-hit Panama Canal, as low water levels have reduced crossings at the key maritime trade route.

Among smaller vessels, the supramax index was down for the 21st consecutive session. It fell 27 points to 1,108.

Source: Reuters