Baltic index touches new record low on muted vessel demand

By Finance

The Baltic Exchange’s main sea freight index, which tracks rates for ships carrying industrial commodities, registered a new all-time low on Monday on muted vessel demand.

The overall index, which gauges the cost of shipping dry bulk including iron ore, cement, grain, coal and fertiliser, fell four points to 293 points. The index slid below the 300 mark for the first time on Feb. 4.

Baltic index touches new record low on muted vessel demand

Image: shipping and freight resource

The index is yet to rise in a single session this year, tumbling nearly 40 percent and touching fresh lows in 24 of the 26 sessions.

A slowdown in the Chinese economy, which expanded at its slowest pace in a quarter of a century in 2015, and a huge over-capacity in vessels has hit the index hard. Chinese markets are closed from Feb. 8 to Feb. 12 for the Lunar New Year holiday.

“The fundamentals that we are experiencing now are unlikely to change much in the first half of this year so owners and charterers should not expect too much recovery post Chinese New Year,” shipping services firm Braemar ACM said in a note Monday.

The capesize index fell five points to 207 points.

Average daily earnings for capesize vessels, which typically transport 150,000-tonne cargoes such as iron ore and coal, fell $43 to $2,781. The panamax index rose three points at 298 points.

Average daily earnings for panamaxes, which usually carry coal or grain cargoes of about 60,000 to 70,000 tonnes, rose $29 to $2,390.

Source: Reuters / Reporting By Nallur Sethuraman in Bengaluru, editing by David Evans