Grain Ships Have Biggest Fall This Year as Cargo Demand Slows

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April 25, 2013

Taking on Grain, image (c) Rob Almeida

(Bloomberg) — Rates for dry bulk carriers hauling grains and minerals fell the most in a single session this year as demand for cargoes slowed.

Day rates for Panamaxes, 750-foot-long ships capable of hauling about 75,000 metric tons of cargo, slid 3.8 percent to $8,955, the most since Dec. 20, according to the Baltic Exchange in London, which publishes shipping prices on more than 50 maritime routes. Today’s decrease, the third in a row, means costs plunged to the lowest since April 12, exchange data show.

Rates for grain-carrying Panamaxes declined 6.7 percent over the last three sessions, as charterers appeared to “step back” from booking ships ahead of a public holiday in parts of Asia, investment bank RS Platou AS said today. April 29 through May 1 are public holidays in China, the world’s biggest producer and consumer of wheat, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

“The Panamax market, which had a run up toward the $10,000 mark last week, is falling slightly back due to limited requirements in both the Atlantic and the Pacific,” according to an e-mailed report from Fearnley Securities AS. “Current average rates are in the $9,000 to $10,000 a day range.”

The Baltic Dry Index, a wider measure of commodity shipping costs lost 0.8 percent to 872 points, the lowest since April 11, according to the exchange.

Earnings for Capesize vessels, which are about twice the size of Panamaxes and haul iron ore and coal, added 2 percent to $4,289 a day, the bourse said. That capped a series of eight successive losses, the data show.

Rates for Supramaxes, about 25 percent smaller than Panamaxes, were little changed at $9,455. Handysizes, the smallest vessels tracked by the gauge, gained 0.2 percent to $8,043, exchange data show.

– Rob Sheridan, Copyright 2013 Bloomberg.

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