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 December 25 through January 1, 2021.
(Reporting by Bharat Govind Gautam; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)
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