Tsuru coal carrier

MV Tsuru, a self-unloading coal carrier. Image (c) Rob Almeida

Returns for Panamax vessels that haul coal and other commodities strengthened, nearing a two- month high, on increasing exports of the mineral from the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Daily rates rose 4.4 percent to $6,226, figures from the Baltic Exchange in London showed today. That’s the highest since Dec. 18, the bourse data showed. Costs increased for a sixth consecutive session, according to the bourse, which publishes shipping prices on more than 50 maritime routes.

An increase in coal exports this week amid colder weather is helping lift rates for Panamaxes, the biggest vessels to navigate the Panama Canal, according to analyst Dominic Hardy at Galbraith’s Ltd., a London-based shipbroker. South American grain exports are expected to boost spot rates further in the second quarter this year, according to an e-mailed report from Oslo-based RS Platou Markets AS.

“Rising Panamax rates are probably due to coal exports out of U.S. Gulf and the Baltic,” Hardy said today by e-mail. “Later on in the year we expect to see support from the South American grain season but this won’t have kicked in yet.”

Returns for Capesize vessels that typically hold at least 150,000 metric tons of iron ore slipped 0.6 percent to $7,130 a day, according to the exchange’s figures. Capesizes are the biggest vessel type tracked by the Baltic Dry Index, a broader measure of raw-materials shipping costs. The gauge climbed 0.5 percent to 751 points, a second straight increase.

Supramaxes, which are about 25 percent smaller than Panamaxes, lost 0.7 percent to $6,938, exchange figures showed. Returns for Handysizes, the smallest ships in the index, slipped 0.7 percent to $6,177, according to bourse data.

- Rob Sheridan, Copyright 2013 Bloomberg.

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