rio tinto capesize iron ore bulk carrier cape lambert

Iron ore is loaded on to the Pacific Ruby, a Capesize bulk carrier berthed at Rio Tinto’s Cape Lambert port. Image (c) Rio Tinto

(Bloomberg) — Iron ore and coal shipping costs slid for a fifth day amid speculation storms in Australia are curbing demand for vessels carrying the steelmaking commodities from the nation’s ports.

Daily earnings for Capesizes hauling 160,000 metric ton cargoes declined 1.7 percent to $7,785, according to the Baltic Exchange, the London-based publisher of freight rates. Losses extended across all four vessel types tracked by the Baltic Dry Index, leading the gauge of commodity shipping costs down 0.8 percent to 792, figures showed today.

Capesize rates are 0.3 percent above what owners need to cover operating costs including crew and maintenance, estimates Moore Stephens LLP, a U.K.-based consulting firm. Harbor masters reopened the Australian iron ore ports of Cape Lambert, Dampier and Port Hedland last week after a tropical cyclone stopped loading. Vessel movements were also halted last week on the nation’s east coast, which supplies more than 50 percent of the coal grade used to make steel.

“The Pacific market slowed amid continued weather problems in Australia,” Frode Moerkedal, an Oslo-based analyst at Platou Markets AS, said in an e-mailed report today. “Activity also declined in the Atlantic with brokers saying vessel availability was building up.”

Daily rates for Panamaxes fell 0.8 percent to $5,646 a day, according to the exchange. Supramaxes dipped 0.2 percent to $7,422 and Handysizes fell 0.5 percent to $7,057.

Australia is the world’s largest exporter of iron ore and coal used to make steel, according to data from Clarkson Plc, the world’s largest shipbroker.

- Isaac Arnsdorf, Copyright 2013 Bloomberg.

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