Baltic index edges up, but outlook dim as virus hits shipments
The Baltic Exchange’s main sea freight index inched higher on Wednesday, helped by an uptick in rates for panamax vessels, but sentiment remained negative as the coronavirus outbreak disrupted vessel shipments.
The Baltic index, which tracks rates for capesize, panamax and supramax vessels that ferry dry bulk commodities, was up 3 points, or 0.7%, at 421.
The main index slid to a near 4-year low of 411 on Monday.
Global ship deliveries have been hit as yards in China struggle to get fully back to work as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, with one shipbuilder saying it could not deliver two vessels.
The capesize index fell 6 points to negative 259, as coronavirus woes stopped cargo ships from sailing to and from mainland China.
“The markets that are deeply dependent to China’s trade have been heavily affected, while the outbreak came to a period concurrent with the Chinese New Year holidays,” ship broker Intermodal said in a weekly research note on Tuesday.
“The extended period of China’s shutdown has shrunk trade volumes worldwide and freight rates across all sectors have plummeted.”
Average daily earnings for capesizes, which typically transport 170,000-180,000 tonne cargoes including iron ore and coal, fell $47 to $2,713.
The supramax index fell 5 points to 472.
The panamax index rose 25 points, or 4.5%, to 582.
Average daily earnings for panamaxes, which usually carry coal or grain cargoes of about 60,000 tonnes to 70,000 tonnes, increased $224 to $5,234.
The death toll from the coronavirus epidemic in China reached 1,113 by the end of Tuesday, while total infections hit 44,653.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Diptendu Lahiri and Swati Verma in Bengaluru; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)