Baltic Dry Index Gains 5.9 Percent to Cap Record Monthly Gain
The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of shipping costs for commodities, climbed every day in May to post its biggest monthly advance on record.
The index tracking transport costs on international trade routes added 196 points, or 5.9 percent, to 3,494 points, according to the London-based Baltic Exchange today. The gauge climbed 96 percent in the month.
"It's amazing; the atmosphere is much more positive than it was a few months back," said Herman Billung, chief executive officer of Golden Ocean Management A/S, which operates Norwegian billionaire John Fredriksen's fleet of commodity carriers.
"It's extremely dangerous to underestimate Chinese demand, which we've all had a tendency to do for a few years now."
As well as three straight months of record iron ore imports, Chinese shippers are stepping up purchases of coal and other commodities, Billung said by phone from Oslo today. Ships' asset values are climbing because of the rising market, he said.
The advance in the index was led by capesizes, the vessels most commonly used to haul iron ore to China, the world's biggest buyer of the raw material. They added 12 percent to $67,729 a day. Smaller panamax vessels climbed 4.9 percent to $23,242 a day. Capesizes typically haul about 175,000 metric tons of cargo and panamaxes are half the size.
In December, 20 percent of the fleet was idling because ships couldn't get cargoes, Billung said. Today, 20 percent are waiting to dock because of port congestion, he said.
Capesize forward freight agreements, contracts settled by the bourse's daily prices, gained 5.9 percent to $48,500 a day for the third quarter, according to London-based Simpson, Spence & Young Ltd. Panamax FFAs for the same period added 7.5 percent to $21,375 a day.