The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index, tracking rates for ships carrying dry bulk commodities, rose on Thursday as stronger demand for panamax and supramax vessels offset a fall in capsize rates.
- The overall index, which factors in rates for capesize, panamax, and supramax shipping vessels, was up 6 points, or 0.5 percent, at 1,197 points.
- "In the dry bulk market, capesize rates are continuing to slide as the Atlantic remains relatively quiet," analysts at ship broker Clarksons Platou Securities said.
- "While the markets for the smaller vessels remain firm, we expect the softness seen in the capesize market to maintain a natural cap on the market as charterers look to potentially combine/under-load traditional panamax cargoes on the currently more economical cape."
- The panamax index was up 37 points, or 2.38 percent, at 1,590 points, the highest since Dec. 19.
- Average daily earnings for panamaxes, which usually carry coal or grain cargoes of about 60,000 to 70,000 tonnes, increased $300 to $12,763.
- "A mixed week with a lot of volatility and different activity level from day to day, but in general there has been a positive sentiment, especially during the last couple of days with increasing freight rates in both hemispheres," Fearnleys said in a weekly report on Wednesday, referring to the panamax segment in particular.
- The supramax index rose for the 17th straight session, gaining 6 points to 1,026 points, a peak since early November.
- The capesize index dropped 6 points, or 0.4 percent, to 1,489 points, the lowest since Feb. 5.
- Average daily earnings for capesizes, which typically transport 150,000-tonne cargoes such as iron ore and coal, were down $128 at $11,669.
- Chinese steel and iron ore futures tumbled almost 4 percent on Thursday, pressured by soft demand in the world's top consumer of both commodities and after China warned it will respond as necessary in the event of a trade war with the United States.
- The most-traded May iron ore on the Dalian Commodity Exchange ended down 3.8 percent at the intraday low of 500.50 yuan per tonne, a level last seen on Dec. 15.
Reporting by Vijaykumar Vedala