- Measure falls to 468 points, lowest since it began in 1985
- Slowing Chinese economic growth seen causing rates to slump
The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of the cost of transporting commodities, plunged to a record amid signs of slowing economic growth in China that’s also hurting the nation’s stock market.
The index retreated 1.1 percent to 468 points, tumbling below a previous record low set in December. Rates declined for all except one of the vessel types monitored. China moved to support its sinking stock market after a $590 billion sell off as state-controlled funds bought equities and the securities regulator signaled a selling ban on major investors will remain beyond this week’s expiration date, according to people familiar with the matter.
While movements in stock markets aren’t directly correlated to shipping rates, both respond to movements in the nation’s wider economy. Growth in China slowed to a 6.9 percent pace last year, the weakest in decades, and will decelerate again this year and next, economists’ forecasts compiled by Bloomberg show. The nation accounts for about two in every three iron ore shipments, the most important cargo for owners.
“It’s all symptomatic of a slowdown in Chinese growth,” said Jeffrey Landsberg, managing director of Commodore Research, a New York-based shipping-market consultant. “It’s all about China.”
The Baltic Exchange publishes day rates for two classes of Capesize ship that are normally used to transport iron ore. One fell 3.9 percent to $3,701 a day, the other slid 2.8 percent to $4,676. Of the vessel types it monitors, the only one to increase was Panamaxes, the biggest able to navigate the Panama Canal. They rose 0.4 percent to $3,722.