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Panamax Rates Slide for 26th Straight Day as Chinese Mills Put Pressure on Spot Market

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May 30, 2013

Image courtesy BHP Billiton

(Bloomberg) — Rates to ship iron ore fell by the most in two weeks on speculation steel mills in China, the largest buyer, are using inventories instead of imports to push down the price that already dropped 30 percent since February.

Daily earnings for Capesizes hauling about 160,000 metric tons of the commodity used to make steel fell 2.3 percent to $5,172, the biggest drop since May 16, according to the Baltic Exchange, the London-based publisher of shipping costs. That led the Baltic Dry Index, a broader gauge of raw materials shipping costs, down 0.9 percent to 811, figures showed today.

Chinese steel mills are using volumes bought earlier so they can replenish stockpiles at cheaper prices, lowering demand for spot cargoes, Joel Crane, an analyst at Morgan Stanley in Melbourne, said in an e-mailed report today. The benchmark iron ore price fell 1.2 percent to $111.60 a dry metric ton today, extending its retreat from a 16-month high of $158.90 on Feb. 20, according to The Steel Index Ltd.

“Chinese steel mills are selling volumes they already purchased, a strategy signaling they think spot prices will drop lower, allowing them to restock at cheaper levels,” Crane said in the report. “Not only does this pressure bids, but also lowers demand for spot cargoes, forcing producers to drop their offers.”

Rates for Panamaxes that carry about half as much cargo as Capesizes fell for a 26th day, extending the longest streak since February 2012 as they slid 1.9 percent to $6,415 a day, according to the exchange. Supramaxes rose 0.7 percent to $9,044, and Handysizes, the smallest ship type tracked by the index, slipped 1 percent to $7,957, data show.

– Isaac Arnsdorf, Copyright 2013 Bloomberg.

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