bulk carrier grain dry cargo ship

Bulk carrier loads grain. Image (c) Shutterstock/Rigucci

March 26 (Bloomberg) — Rates for Panamax ships carrying grains ended their longest rally in a decade amid speculation demand temporarily declined before holidays starting at the end of this week.

Earnings for the vessels, which also carry coal, slid 0.5 percent to $9,632 a day, according to the Baltic Exchange in London today. Rates rallied every day from Feb. 6 to yesterday, the longest advance since 2003. The Baltic Dry Index, a wider measure of commodity-shipping prices, also fell, as did three of the four vessel types in the gauge.

Traders in the U.S., Europe, Latin America and elsewhere in the world break for Easter in the next several days. The rally will resume after the holidays because of rising Chinese demand for grain and soy crops, as well as port delays in Latin America, said Alex Gray, chief executive officer of Clarkson Securities Ltd., a unit of the world’s largest shipbroker.

“The pressure seems a little bit off and we’ve seen some small but noticeable drops in what charterers are willing to pay,” said Gray, whose company handles freight and iron ore swaps. “Holidays loom and the boot is on the other foot.”

Capesizes, the largest vessels within the exchange’s daily assessments, declined 1.8 percent to $4,894 a day. The vessels normally carry more than 150,000 metric tons of cargo. Supramaxes, hauling about a third that, fell 0.4 percent to $10,217. Handysizes, the smallest ships tracked, advanced 0.5 percent to $8,082, their 24th straight gain.

There is still a “fundamental oversupply” of Panamaxes and the rally will be temporary, Gray said.

- Alaric Nightingale, Copyright 2013 Bloomberg.

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