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Ore Ships Decline on Few Hires as China Steel Demand Seen Softer

Costs to ship iron ore fell the most in a month as few vessels were hired on speculation Chinese steel demand is slowing.

Daily earnings for Capesizes hauling 160,000 metric tons of the raw material declined 3.9 percent to $8,661, the biggest drop since Dec. 19, according to the Baltic Exchange, the London-based publisher of freight rates. The Baltic Dry Index, a broader gauge of commodity shipping costs, fell 1.6 percent to 825, figures showed today.

There were few bookings yesterday, Frode Moerkedal, an Oslo-based analyst at RS Platou Markets in Oslo, said in an e-mailed report today, citing brokers he didn’t identify. Cold weather in China is delaying construction, curbing steel demand, according to SEB Commodity Research. Rising inventories will lead to lower prices and profits for mills, said Erik Nikolai Stavseth, an analyst at Arctic Securities ASA in Oslo.

The shipping market is “set for decline once reality returns,” Stavseth said in an e-mailed report today. “We think there is limited upside to freight rates in dry bulk.”

Ore with 62 percent content at the port of Tianjin was unchanged today at $145.90 a dry ton, according to The Steel Index Ltd. That’s down 8 percent from a 14-month high reached Jan. 8. Chinese stockpiles of steel reinforcement bars used in construction rose 11 percent this month to 60 million tons, according to Shanghai Steelhome Information. Rebar futures traded in the city fell 0.6 percent to 3,968 yuan ($637) a ton.

The three other vessel types tracked by the index changed less than 1 percent. Panamax rates fell 0.9 percent to $5,778 a day, according to the exchange. Supramaxes dipped 0.9 percent to $7,544 and Handysizes rose 0.5 percent to $7,115.

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