Baltic index at 5-1/2 year high on strong capesize, panamax rates


July 19 (Reuters) – The Baltic Exchange’s main sea freight index climbed to its highest since December 2013 on Friday, driven by firm demand for capesize and panamax vessels.

* The Baltic index, which tracks rates for ships ferrying dry bulk commodities, rose nearly 2%, or 40 points, to 2,170, a peak since Dec. 24, 2013.

* The index rose for the ninth session in a row, mainly spurred by strong demand for vessels that ship iron ore from Brazil into China.

* “Vale has resumed operations at the 30 MMtpa Brucutu iron ore mine, leading to a massive surge in fixture activity and an even bigger rally in capesize spot rates,” Randy Giveans, vice president, equity research at Jefferies, said in a note.

* The capesize index gained 123 points, or about 3%, to 4,379 points, a peak since October 2010.

* Average daily earnings for capesizes, which typically transport 170,000 tonne-180,000 tonne cargoes such as iron ore and coal, rose $546 to $32,765.

* The panamax index rose 36 points, or 1.7%, to 2,170 points, its highest since December 2010.

* Average daily earnings for panamaxes, which usually carry coal or grain cargoes of about 60,000 tonnes to 70,000 tonnes, rose $295 to $17,348.

* The supramax index was 29 points higher at 982 points.

(Reporting by Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel)