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Grain-Ship Rates Decline as Mississippi Water Levels Cut Cargoes

Hire costs for Panamax vessels used to ship minerals and grains declined for a fourth day as low water levels in the Mississippi River cut cargoes available for export, reducing vessel numbers booked for transits to Asia.

Average rates for the ships declined 1.4 percent to $7,815 daily, according to the Baltic Exchange, a London-based assessor of freight costs. The Baltic Dry Index, a wider measure of shipping costs, slid 1 percent to 1,086.

Delays in delivering grains along the waterway to port for export because of low water levels is making the commodity more expensive, slowing shipments to Asia, Braemar Seascope Ltd., a London-based shipbroker, said in an e-mailed report today.

“Buying interest for U.S. Gulf grains and fresh stems have been slow to develop, contributing to a general slowdown in fronthaul activity,” the company said. Rates for so-called fronthaul journeys, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Pacific Ocean, fell 0.7 percent to $14,903, exchange data show. A stem is an industry term for a cargo to be booked.

Low water levels on the Mississippi, a waterway used to ship grains by barge to terminals in the U.S. Gulf, is threatening to disrupt exports, Deutsche Bank AG said in an e-mailed report today.

Average rates for Capesize ships, the largest tracked by the index, declined 2.2 percent to $15,869 daily, while Supramaxes able to carry cargoes of about 50,000 metric tons, advanced by 0.8 percent to $8,005 daily. Handysizes, the smallest, rose by 0.4 percent to $6,605 daily.

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