Baltic Index Posts Gain, But Shipping Activity Slows

Maritime Activity Reports, Inc.

February 21, 2020

© masterskuz55/ Adobe Stock

© masterskuz55/ Adobe Stock

The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index rose for a fifth straight session on Friday, ending higher for a second straight week, as vessel rates rose despite concerns over the impact of coronavirus on global growth.

The Baltic index, which tracks rates for capesize, panamax and supramax vessels that ferry dry bulk commodities, rose 17 points, or 3.5%, to 497.

The index posted gains for a second straight week.

The capesize index, which tracks vessels that typically transport 170,000 to 180,000 tonne cargoes including iron ore and coal, rose 6 points but still remained at -226.

However, the index registered its first weekly gain in 11 weeks.

"Dry bulk demand has traditionally picked up after the Lunar New Year in China, but not this time around. The coronavirus has postponed the comeback of normal market conditions," BIMCO Chief Shipping Analyst Peter Sand said in a note.

"Fixtures of iron ore imports to China have already taken a hit with only 38 cargoes fixed for China in February - a stark contrast to the 62 spot cargoes fixed in the same period last year."

Shipping demand from China has taken a hit as the coronavirus outbreak has forced authorities to shut factories and mills.

Average daily earnings for capesizes rose by $52 to $2,787.

The panamax index rose 32 points, or 4.2%, to 787, the highest since Jan. 22.

The index has gained over 23% this week, marking its biggest weekly gain since July last year.

Average daily earnings for panamaxes, which usually carry coal or grain cargoes of about 60,000 tonnes to 70,000 tonnes, increased $291 to $7,087.

The supramax index rose 19 points to 524. 

(Reporting by Diptendu Lahiri in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi)

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