Baltic index ticks down as smaller vessel rates dip

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The Baltic Exchange’s dry bulk sea freight index declined on Thursday, as lower rates for panamax and supramax vessels outweighed strength in the capesize segment.

The overall index, which factors in rates for capesize, panamax and supramax shipping vessels, fell 5 points, or 0.2%, at 2,086, its lowest since late November.

The capesize index rose to a two-week high, adding 82 points, or 2.3%, at 3,651.

Average daily earnings for capesize vessels, which typically transport 150,000-tonne cargoes such as iron ore and coal, increased $683 to $30,282.

Dalian iron ore futures rose, underpinned by lingering hopes of further stimulus and restocking needs of steelmakers in China.

“The year begins with a downward trend in the Panamax market, particularly in the Atlantic, where tonnage oversupply has led to a drop in rates… A rebound is expected in February with the South American grain exports,” shipbroker Fearnleys wrote in a weekly note dated Wednesday.

The panamax index dropped 81 points, or 4.5%, to 1,727, its lowest since Nov. 15.

Average daily earnings for panamax vessels, which usually carry about 60,000 to 70,000 tons of coal or grain cargo, fell by $728 to $15,543.

“In 2024, grain exports from the southern hemisphere could increase by 5-6%, driven by Argentina’s large harvests. This, paired with the above average sailing distances for Argentinian grain shipments, would support demand for ships in the panamax and supramax segments,” Filipe Gouveia, shipping market analyst at BIMCO, said.

Among smaller vessels, the supramax index was down for the 16th consecutive session. It fell 35 points to 1,236.

Yemen’s Houthis are stirring up the Red Sea and shipping company investors. Maersk and Hapag-Lloyd have gained some $18 billion in market value since mid-December, as militant attacks shut the Suez Canal.

Source: Reuters