The Baltic Exchange’s main sea freight index, tracking rates for ships carrying dry bulk commodities, rose to its highest in three-and-a-half years on Friday, boosted by strong capesize rates.
The overall index, which factors in rates for capesize, panamax, supramax and handysize shipping vessels, rose 32 points, or 2.18 percent, to end at 1,502 points, its highest since March 2014.
The capesize index was up 199 points, or 6.75 percent, at 3,147 points, its highest level since November 2014.
Average daily earnings for capesizes, which typically transport 150,000-tonne cargoes such as iron ore and coal, increased $1,067 to $22,392.
The panamax index slipped 21 points, or 1.39 percent, to 1,493 points.
Average daily earnings for panamaxes, which usually carry coal or grain cargoes of about 60,000 to 70,000 tonnes, fell $164 to $12,006.
“Demand for the larger bulker sizes are at the best we have seen in a long time,” said Peter Sand, chief shipping analyst at industry lobby group BIMCO.
But current rates were “nowhere near a time to celebrate as the market had just turned profitable on a day-to-day basis,” Sand said. For 2017, BIMCO still expects average rates to be loss-making for the industry, he added.
Among indexes tracking rates for smaller vessels, the supramax index climbed 11 points to 1,061 points, and the handysize index rose 10 points to 596 points.