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Baltic Index Inches Up Amid Virus Outbreak

© Unkas Photo / Adobe Stock

by Anjishnu Mondal

The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index inched up on Friday and registered its first weekly gain in ten weeks as firm panamax vessel rates outweighed losses in the coronavirus-hit capesize segment.

The Baltic index, which tracks rates for capesize, panamax and supramax vessels that ferry dry bulk commodities, edged up 4 points, or 1.0%, to 425.

For the week, the main index gained over 2.4%, breaking nine straight weeks of declines.

The capesize index fell 10 points to negative 294, registering its ninth consecutive weekly fall.

"The dry bulk market is heavily dependent on China and their mills and factories are not still working in full capacity," said Greece-based EastGate Shipbrokers, adding demand for raw materials such as iron ore and coal has been impacted as a result.

Average daily earnings for capesizes, which typically transport 170,000-180,000 tonne cargoes including iron ore and coal, fell $87 to $2,445.

The panamax index rose 24 points, or 3.9%, to 636.

The index has gained over 17% 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 $218 to $5,724.

EastGate Shipbrokers expect the dry bulk market to recover in the mid to long term as China's commitment to buy large amounts of U.S. agricultural goods as part of their phase one trade deal should support the panamax segment.

Beijing said last week it would halve additional tariffs on some U.S. imports, seen as a move to boost confidence amid the virus outbreak that has disrupted businesses and hit investor sentiment.

China reported 121 new deaths from the virus on Friday, bringing the toll to 1,380.

The supramax index rose 2 points to 470.

(Reporting by Anjishnu Mondal in Bengaluru)

Feb 14, 2020


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