Baltic index steady as lower rates for smaller vessels counter capesize gains

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The Baltic Exchange’s dry bulk sea freight index was mostly unchanged on Tuesday after a climb in capesize rates was countered by declines for all other vessel classes.

The overall index, which factors in rates for capesize, panamax and supramax shipping vessels, was down 1 point, or 0.1%, at 2,093. But the index ended 2023 with a 38% gain.

The capesize index was up 86 points, or 2.5%, at 3,484, its highest in over a week. It rose 50% last year, its best since 2017.

Average daily earnings for capesize vessels, which typically transport 150,000-tonne cargoes such as iron ore and coal, increased $719 to $28,896.

Iron ore futures climbed to multi-month highs, with sentiment boosted by upbeat economic data in top consumer China and mounting expectations of a flurry of pre-holiday replenishment from steelmakers in the coming weeks.

The panamax index was down 37 points, or 1.9%, at 1,872 but logged a yearly gain of 24% in 2023.

Average daily earnings for panamax class, which usually carries about 60,000 to 70,000 tons of coal or grain cargo, fell by $332 to $16,851.

Among smaller vessels, the supramax index was down 61 points at 1,308, falling for the 14th consecutive session. However, it rose nearly 29% in 2023.

Iranian-backed Houthi militants in Yemen have stepped up attacks on vessels in the Red Sea, forcing some shipping companies to halt operations through the Suez Canal.

Denmark’s Maersk will decide whether to resume sending vessels through the Suez Canal via the Red Sea or redirect them around Africa following a weekend attack on one of its ships, a company spokesperson said.

Source: Reuters