The Baltic Exchange’s dry bulk sea freight index edged higher on Monday, but registered its biggest monthly percentage decline in two years as seasonal weakness coupled with lower iron ore shipments from Australia weighed on vessel demand.
The overall index, which factors in rates for capesize, panamax and supramax vessels, rose 37 points, or 2.7%, to 1,418.
However, the index has fallen 36% for the month, its fourth consecutive monthly decline.
The capesize index climbed 133 points, or 12.4%, to 1,208, its highest level in more than a week.
The index has fallen nearly 48% this month.
Average daily earnings for capesizes, which transport 150,000-tonne cargoes such as iron ore and coal, rose by $1,097 to $10,015.
“Dry bulk spot rates are seasonally soft in Q1 but should return to cyclical strength in 2022 as demand growth is expected across all dry bulk commodities,” analysts at Jefferies wrote in a note.
Earlier this month, BHP Group and Rio Tinto warned of disruptions from labour shortages, which could hamper output and shipments of the steelmaking ingredient.
Australia accounts for about 60% of iron ore shipments to China, while Brazil is the second-biggest supplier with a share of about 20%.
The panamax index eased 12 points to 1,828, its lowest since April.
Average daily earnings for panamaxes, which ferry 60,000-70,000 tonne coal or grain cargoes, fell $103 to $16,454.
The supramax index slipped 10 points to its lowest level since February 2021 at 1,587.