The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of world trade, will stagnate in the next three months after what is likely to be a record quarter.
The Baltic Dry Index, a measure of world trade, will stagnate in the next three months after what is likely to be a record quarter as annual talks over iron-ore prices stall demand, a survey showed. The index will average 1,786 points in the second quarter, compared with 1,782 last Friday, according to the median estimate of 10 analysts, fund managers and shippers surveyed by Bloomberg. The gauge of demand for shipping commodities more than doubled this quarter as China bought more iron ore.
The ore, used to make steel, is the single biggest cargo for dry-bulk ships and annual benchmark prices are negotiated for the start of the Japanese fiscal year on April 1. Prices were actually set as late as May in 2002, 2003 and 2006, and last year as late as June, according to Macquarie Group Ltd.
'Iron-ore price negotiations should slow down shipping activity,' said Philippe van den Abeele, London-based managing director at shipping hedge fund Castalia Fund Management (UK) Ltd. The global economic slump is sapping demand and new ships are still being delivered this year, increasing competition for fewer cargoes, he said.
The Baltic Dry Index fell a record 92 per cent last year. Global steel production shrank 22 per cent last month, with a 54 per cent decline in the US and 44 per cent retreat in Japan, according to the World Steel Association. Eurofer, the European steel industry lobby group, said that demand dropped 30 per cent this quarter and would likely fall further in the next three months.
The estimates in the March 16-19 survey ranged from 1,135 to 2,950 points. They came from Castalia, Lorentzen & Stemoco AS, Drewry Shipping Consultants, Fearnley Fonds ASA, Thurlestone Shipping Ltd, M2M Management Ltd, Freight Investor Services Ltd, Galbraith's Ltd, HSBC plc and Island View Shipping.