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Grain Ship Rates Climb to 8-Month High as Demand Spurs Bookings

Rates for Panamax ships climbed to the highest level in almost eight months on increased demand to move grains and oilseeds from South America.

Rates for Panamax vessels, the largest ships to navigate the Panama Canal, gained 0.8 percent to $9,370 a day, the highest since July 19, according to the London-based Baltic Exchange.

South American grain shipments “continue to underpin rates,” according to an e-mailed report from Oslo-based Arctic Securities ASA today. Argentina’s corn exports are growing while U.S. shipments are falling and Brazil is set to overtake the U.S. as the biggest soybean exporter in the 2012-13 marketing year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“The strong South American grain season is the main support factor with charterers paying up for prompt tonnage,” Frode Morkedal, an analyst with investment bank RS Platou Markets AS said in an e-mailed report today.

Supramaxes, about 25 percent smaller than Panamaxes, advanced 1.3 percent to $9,799, exchange data showed.

Capesize vessels declined 0.5 percent to $4,896 today. That’s the lowest level for the iron-ore carriers in a week, according to the data. Capesizes are the largest vessels tracked by the Baltic Dry Index, a wider measure of commodity transportation costs, which gained for a 14th session, climbing 0.8 percent to 899.

Rents for Handysize vessels, the smallest ships in the index, added 1.4 percent, rising to $7,638 a day.

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