March 8 (Bloomberg) -- The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of commodity-shipping costs, rose to the highest level this year on demand to transport grain cargoes.
The gauge added 1.1 percent to 843, the highest since Dec. 11, figures from the London-based Baltic Exchange showed today. It has advanced 14 percent during a run of eight consecutive gains, data compiled by Bloomberg showed. Daily hire rates increased for all four vessel types tracked by the exchange.
A seasonal climb in grain exports from South America is lifting demand for Panamax ships, according to Peter Norfolk, a London-based analyst at derivatives broker Freight Investor Services Ltd. The ships are the largest that can navigate the Panama Canal. Daily average hire costs for the vessels advanced 1.1 percent to $8,994 today, the highest since July 23, according to the exchange. That’s the 23rd straight gain, the longest winning streak since Jan. 2, 2003, exchange data showed.
“The strongest gains we have seen in Panamax rates have been Atlantic rates, for ships loading in Brazil and heading to the Middle East and Asia,” Norfolk said by phone today. “Demand for cargoes has caused congestion to develop as ships wait to load cargoes, and these delays would also be a positive driver for Panamax rates.”
Capesizes, the largest ships tracked by the index, which can haul as much as 150,000 metric tons of iron ore, added 0.2 percent to $4,483 a day.
Supramaxes, about 25 percent smaller than Panamaxes, gained 1.5 percent to $9,038. It was the 17th straight increase for Supramax rates, the longest winning streak this year. Handysizes, the smallest ships tracked by the index, rose 0.9 percent to $7,193, the highest since Aug. 16, bourse data showed.
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