The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index, tracking rates for ships carrying dry bulk commodities, touched a near three-year high on Monday, supported by higher rates across all vessel segments.
The overall index, which factors in rates for capesize, panamax, supramax and handysize shipping vessels, gained 23 points, or 1.73 percent, at 1,355 points - the highest since Nov. 2014.
"The market has been solely driven forward by the capesize shipping segment this year. Only recently have we seen panamax and handysize climb to profitable freight rates," said Peter Sand
, Chief Shipping Analyst at industry lobby group BIMCO
"But it all originates from various solid Chinese demand, mainly imports of coal and iron ore."
Iron ore shipments account for around a third of seaborne volumes on the larger capesizes.
The capesize index climbed 46 points, or 1.66 percent, to 2,813 points, the strongest level for the index since Nov. 2014.
"Capsize dry bulkers have maintained momentum through the weekend with assessed earnings touching a new multi-year high," Clarksons Platou Securities analysts said in a note.
Average daily earnings for capesizes, which typically transport 150,000-tonne cargoes such as iron ore and coal, were up $488 to $20,831, a peak since Nov. 2014.
The panamax index was up 19 points, or 1.38 percent, at 1,394 points.
Average daily earnings for panamaxes, which usually carry coal or grain cargoes of about 60,000 to 70,000 tonnes, increased $155 to $11,192.
Among smaller vessels, the supramax index rose 10 points to 898 points, while the handysize index rose 5 points to 509 points.
(Reporting by Karen Rodrigues in Bengaluru; Editing by Arun Koyyur)