Shipping Index Heads for Best Quarter Since 2011 on China Demand

The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of costs to transport commodities by sea, is poised for its best quarter since 2011 on stronger Chinese demand for imports of Australian iron ore.

The gauge averaged 1,815 so far in the fourth quarter, the highest level since 2011’s final three months, according to data from the Baltic Exchange in London, which publishes freight prices on more than 50 global maritime routes. Charter costs for all four of the vessel types making up the index are set for the best quarterly performances in two years.

Australia, the world’s largest iron-ore exporter, raised its shipments of the steelmaking raw material to leading global importer China by 19 percent in the first 10 months of 2013, government data show. The increase helps shipping because the cargo generates more demand than any other dry-bulk commodity and growth is taking place as the fleet’s expansion slows.

“Australian growth has been a major factor in absorbing more ships in the Pacific,” Chris Baxter, executive director of SSY Futures Ltd., a unit of the world’s second-largest shipbroker, said by telephone. “We expect rates across the sizes to be higher next year than this year.”

Daily rents for Capesize ships, the largest carriers in the index, fell 3.1 percent today to $36,339, according to the exchange. Hire rates for Panamaxes dropped for the first time since Nov. 21 to $16,612 and Supramaxes fell 0.4 percent to $16,169. Handysizes, the smallest vessels in the gauge, gained for a 42nd straight session to $11,685.

Analysts expect freight rates to rise in 2014. A two-year rally will start next year, Morgan Stanley said in an e-mailed report on Dec. 13.

To contact the reporter on this story: Naomi Christie in London at nchristie5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Alaric Nightingale at anightingal1@bloomberg.net

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