Baltic index sinks on low cargo demand, risks persist in Red Sea

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The Baltic Exchange’s dry bulk sea freight index dropped on Tuesday for the fifth straight session, tracking lower rates for capesize vessels, even as shipping analysts expected some tailwinds if maritime trade disruption lingers in the Red Sea.

The overall index was down 69 points, or 3%, at 2,219, its lowest since Nov. 24.

Seasonally lower trading activity and steep export volumes in recent weeks led to reduced demand for dry bulk tonnage, said Yiannis Parganas, director of Intermodal Shipbrokers.

But continuing attacks on ships in the Red Sea will positively impact the dry bulk freight market, Parganas said, citing longer trips by ships that re-route and higher premiums and longer delays for ships that risk going through the Red Sea.

The United States launched a multinational operation to safeguard commerce in the Red Sea as attacks by Iran-backed Yemeni militants fuelled concern over sustained disruptions to global trade.

Several container ships anchored in the Red Sea have turned off tracking systems in response to the attacks on the world’s main East-West trade route.

According to Jefferies, roughly 5% of dry bulk cargo moves through the Suez Canal, and sailing around the Cape of Good Hope could raise fleet utilization from 82% to 85%.

“Impact from the Red Sea across many shipping segments could begin to be felt in a few weeks as increased re-routing around Africa will tie up vessel availability.”

The capesize index was down 206 points, or 5.2%, at 3,730, also hitting a 25-day low.

Average daily earnings for capesizes, which typically transports 150,000-ton iron ore and coal cargoes, decreased $1,703 to $30,936.

Bucking the trend, the panamax index was up 9 points, or 0.5%, at 1,915, for its best session in two weeks.

Average daily earnings for panamaxes, which usually carries about 60,000 to 70,000 tons of coal or grain cargo, increased from $76 to $17,231.

The supramax index was down 11 points at 1,408, extending its losing streak for the 10th session.

Source: Reuters

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