Baltic index marks over 2-year highs on improved shipping activity


March 27 (Reuters) – The Baltic Exchange’s main sea freight index, tracking rates for ships carrying dry bulk commodities, hit a more than two-year high on Monday supported by firmer shipping demand.

The overall index, which factors in rates for capesize, panamax, supramax and handysize shipping vessels, touched its highest level since November 2014. The index was up 42 points, or 3.39 percent, at 1,282 points.

“We have seen demand benefiting more or less all shipping segments. We have seen strong demand for iron ore, coal, soybean across the board. A broad range of commodities have supported the market,” said Peter Sand, chief shipping analyst at industry lobby group BIMCO.

The Baltic index is up nearly 350 percent since February last year when it touched 290 points, the lowest since data is available dating back to 1985.

Scrapping of old vessels and limited orders for new ones over the past two years have led to tightening of ship supply, analysts said.

An increase in iron ore and coal shipments to China, owing to the curbs on production by the country in addition to ramping up of output in Australia and Brazil have helped average spot rates and thereby the Baltic index, they added.

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The capesize index gained 138 points, or 5.56 percent, to 2,620 points.

Average daily earnings for capesizes, which typically transport 150,000-tonne cargoes such as iron ore and coal, were up $1,188 to $19,266.

The panamax index was up 35 points, or 2.87 percent, at 1,253 points.

Average daily earnings for panamaxes, which usually carry coal or grain cargoes of about 60,000 to 70,000 tonnes, increased $280 to $10,066.

Among smaller vessels, the supramax index fell one point to 895 points, while the handysize index rose four points to 530 points.

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