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Strong vessel demand propels Baltic index to highest in over a decade

The Baltic Exchange’s main sea freight index, which tracks rates for ships carrying dry bulk commodities, jumped to its highest level in over a decade on Thursday, powered by strong demand across vessels segments.

The overall index, which factors in rates for capesize, panamax, supramax and handysize shipping vessels, jumped about 3% or 93 points at 3,503, the highest level since mid-2010.

The capesize index rose 224 points, or 5.1%, to 4,608, a fresh record since May 12.

Average daily earnings for capesizes, which typically transport 150,000-tonne cargoes such as iron ore and coal, rose by $1,863 to $38,217.

“Physical demand has been strong along with the paper market, with demand coming in from the pacific, and helped by a underlying fundamental of strong demand for commodities from the start of 2021,” said Rebecca Galanopoulos Jones, head of research at Alibra Shipping.

“Congestion in Chinese ports, along with some weather concerns in the Pacific have also helped, but where we go from here is anyone’s guess,” Jones added.

Congestion off China’s top two container ports Shanghai and Ningbo is worsening following the shutdown of a container terminal in Ningbo where a COVID-19 case was detected this week.

The panamax index advanced 34 points, or 1%, to its highest since June 22 at 3,550.

Average daily earnings for panamaxes, which usually carry coal or grain cargoes of about 60,000 tonnes to 70,000 tonnes, increased by $309 to $31,949.

Among smaller vessels, the supramax index rose about 30 points to 3,079, an all-time high as per Refinitiv Eikon data available since 2017.

Source: Reuters

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