The Baltic Exchange’s main sea freight index recorded its biggest ever daily percentage jump on Wednesday, propelled by surging capesize rates due to a spike in iron-ore shipments.
The Baltic dry index, which tracks rates for ships ferrying dry bulk commodities and reflects rates for capesize, panamax and supramax vessels, rose 192 points, or about 18.2%, to 1,246, its highest since Dec. 17.
The Baltic capesize index jumped 601 points, or about 32.4% to 2,455, its highest since Dec. 13.
Average daily earnings for capesizes, which typically transport cargoes of 170,000 tonnes to 180,000 tonnes, including iron ore and coal, increased by $4,250 to $19,036.
Increasing shipments of iron ore out of Brazil, along with coal from the east coast of the United States to India, have brought down the number of open ships, leading to a massive change in capesize rates over the past two weeks, said Peter Sand, chief shipping analyst at BIMCO.
A sharp rise in demand for the steel-making ingredient has helped the index recoup losses caused by a pandemic-led global economic slump that hammered capesize vessel demand and pushed the index into negative territory.
“The main driver is iron ore,” with strong flows along both Australian and Brazilian routes and likely to improve further, ship broker Fearnleys said in a note.
“Period interest is increasing gradually as well with operators again being more active.”
Iron-ore inventories at Chinese ports have also dropped to their lowest since October 2016, SteelHome consultancy data showed.
The panamax index gained 70 points, or 7.4%, to 1,019.
Average daily earnings for panamaxes, which usually carry coal or grain cargoes of about 60,000 tonnes to 70,000 tonnes, rose $625 to $9,170.
The supramax index rose 10 points, or 1.6%, to 634.