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Baltic index marks first yearly gain in three on China iron ore demand

The Baltic Exchange’s main sea freight index posted its first annual gain in three years on Thursday as iron ore shipments to China bounced higher, despite a hit to shipping activity due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Baltic dry index, which tracks rates for capesize, panamax and supramax vessels, was up 4 points, or 0.3%, at 1,366, its highest level in over eight weeks.

The index firmed by 3.1% this week, marking its third consecutive weekly rise.

For the year, the overall index has gained by 25.3%.

“China forges more steel than the rest of the world combined, and even during this unprecedented pandemic, the nation is set to break a nine-year record with iron ore imports increasing this year to above one billion tonnes,” ship broker Intermodal said in a weekly research note.

China’s iron ore imports are playing a significant role in seaborne trade dynamics and the capesize freight market in particular, Intermodal said on Tuesday.

The capesize index rose 27 points, or 1.4%, to 2,006, peak since Oct. 28 and posted its second consecutive weekly rise, at 11.3% this week.

The index has firmed about 2.9% this year.

Average daily earnings for capesizes, which typically transport 150,000-tonne cargoes such as iron ore and coal, were up $224 at $16,633.

The panamax index fell 8 points, or 0.6%, to 1,325. It weakened 5.5% this week but gained by 18.6% for the year.

Average daily earnings for panamaxes, which usually carry coal or grain cargoes of about 60,000 tonnes to 70,000 tonnes, were down $75 at $11,926.

The supramax index edged down 8 points to 1,039. It jumped by 44.7% this year.

The Baltic Exchange will not publish data for the main index from Dec. 25 – Jan. 1, 2021.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Bharat Govind Gautam in Bengaluru; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)

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