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Coal-Carrier Rates Drop as Storms Curb Australian Exports

Charter rates for Panamax ships, which typically haul minerals and grains, slumped after storms curbed exports from Australian ports.

Daily hire costs for the vessels, the largest to navigate the Panama Canal, declined 1.4 percent to $5,568, the lowest in three weeks, data from the London-based Baltic Exchange showed today. That was the 11th consecutive drop.

Floodwaters in eastern Australia crested as ex-tropical cyclone Oswald moved offshore after causing millions of dollars of damage. Xstrata Plc, the world’s biggest shipper of thermal coal, declared force majeure -- a clause that allows producers to miss deliveries because of events beyond their control -- on some coal export vessels from Gladstone port in Queensland, spokesman Francis De Rosa said by e-mail.

“Bad weather has affected loadings at some Australian ports,” Jeffrey Landsberg, managing director of Commodore Research & Consultancy in New York, said by phone today. “We also see new deliveries into the fleet in January, which is a second factor why rates are under so much pressure.”

The Western Australia iron ore ports of Cape Lambert, Dampier and Port Hedland were shut temporarily last week after tropical cyclone Peta forced a halt to loadings.

The global dry bulk fleet will expand at double the pace of trade growth for a second year in 2013, according to Clarkson Plc. Vessel supply will increase 8 percent as demand climbs 4 percent, Clarkson, the world’s biggest shipbroker, said in a report Jan. 25. That equates to a surplus of 411 Panamax-sized vessels, more than last year’s 404, it said.

Daily hire costs for Capesize vessels, the biggest iron-ore carriers, declined 2.1 percent to $7,623, bourse data showed. Capesizes are the largest vessels tracked by the Baltic Dry Index, a broader measure of costs to transport minerals and grains by sea, which lost 1.6 percent to 779.

Supramaxes that are about 25 percent smaller than Panamax ships fell 2 percent to $7,271, the lowest since Nov. 20, exchange data showed. Handysizes, the smallest ships in the index, lost 1.1 percent to $6,982, the biggest single-session drop since Oct. 3.

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