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David Fickling

Shipping's $12 Billion Iceberg

The world's fleet of dry bulk vessels is still growing despite losing billions of dollars every month.

Here's reason to hope that spring has arrived for the global sea freight industry: The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of shipping costs, is up 62 percent from its record-low reading of 290 on Feb. 11, and just two points below its year-high of 473 on Jan. 4.

That sounds like good news until you consider how far the index has fallen: The benchmark averaged 1,100 in the five years through 2015, and 4,406 in the five years before that.