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Baltic Index Jumps Most Since November on Shortage of Ore Ships

The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of costs to transport minerals and grains on ships, jumped the most since November this week as a shortage of Capesize vessels drove charter costs higher.

The gauge rose 2.1 percent to 837 today, the 12th climb in a row, figures from the London-based Baltic Exchange showed. That rounded out a 10 percent weekly gain, the biggest since the span ended Nov. 16. Daily average returns for Capesizes, the largest iron-ore carriers, surged 45 percent this week, the most since September.

Gains were strongest for Capesizes chartered for voyages loading at ports in the Atlantic region, according to the exchange. A dearth of the carriers for hire in the area made up for a slower market in the Pacific, where vessels haul cargoes of Australian iron ore and coal to Asia, said shipbroker Braemar Seascope Ltd.

“The lack of ballasters sailing prior to Christmas due to a lack of cargo seems to be causing a slight squeeze now for those charterers with January canceling cargo,” Braemar said yesterday in an e-mailed report. Ballasting is an industry term denoting a voyage by a ship without cargo to reposition the vessel in an area where it can reload.

Fewer vessels than expected are repositioning to Atlantic ports from Asia, a journey of more than 30 days, which will likely push rates higher next week, according to Braemar.

Daily average Capesize returns increased 6.7 percent to $8,990 today, the exchange’s figures showed. The global dry-bulk fleet contains 1,505 of the ships, accounting for about 41 percent of capacity, according to Clarkson Plc, the biggest shipbroker. The total fleet will haul an estimated 4.1 billion metric tons of cargo this year, it forecasts.

Among the three classes of smaller vessels tracked by the index, Panamaxes, the largest ships to navigate the Panama Canal, declined 0.4 percent to $5,860 a day. Supramaxes, about 25 percent smaller, slid 0.7 percent to $7,635 and Handysizes, the smallest carriers in the gauge, gained 1.5 percent to $7,012.

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