Baltic Index Has Biggest Weekly Drop in Six as Ship Demand Slows

The Baltic Dry Index, a gauge of costs to transport minerals and grains by sea, had the biggest weekly drop in six weeks, as demand for the two biggest vessels classes slowed.

The index slid 4.9 percent to 841, the most since the week ended April 5, according to the Baltic Exchange in London. Day rates for 750-foot-long Panamaxes, the largest ships to navigate the Panama Canal, lost 2.2 percent to $7,418, falling to the lowest since Feb. 25, exchange data showed. Returns for Capesize vessels, which have twice the capacity of Panamaxes, fell 2.3 percent to $5,168 a day, a seventh consecutive decline.

Demand for both vessel classes has slowed amid an oversupply of ships in the global fleet. Grain-carrying Panamax vessels will expand capacity 12 percent this year, according to Clarkson Plc, the world’s biggest shipbroker. That’s more than double the expected growth of 5 percent in cargoes including coal, iron ore and grains, Clarkson data show.

“Panamax rates have slumped after a fall in demand in the Atlantic region,” Alex Gray, chief executive officer of Clarkson Securities Ltd., said by phone today. “There’s not been enough new inquiries to put the market under pressure. For Capesizes, we see no key event to drive rates between June and August, and so we continue to expect the market to recover in the fourth quarter.”

Rates for Supramaxes, about 25 percent smaller than Panamaxes, declined 0.2 percent to $8,902 a day. Handysizes, the smallest ships tracked by the gauge, decreased 0.1 percent to $8,165, exchange data show.

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