April 24 (Reuters) - The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index, which tracks rates for ships carrying dry commodities, fell on Wednesday amid weaker demand for panamaxes as well as capesizes.
The main index, which gauges the cost of shipping commodities such as iron ore, cement, grain, coal and fertiliser, fell 6 points or 0.67 percent to 879 points.
The Baltic's panamax index lost 28 points or 2.35 percent to 1,165 points. Average daily earnings for panamaxes, which usually transport 60,000 to 70,000 tonne cargoes of coal or grains, also dropped 2.34 percent or $223 to $9,310 Wednesday.
The market for the vessels in both hemispheres seems to be weakening, shipbroker Fearnleys said in its weekly report.
'In the Atlantic, the numbers of fresh requirements is limited and number of ballasters heading for ECSA (European Community Shipowners' Associations) demand more cargoes to avoid a further slide,' it said.
'Some increased activity from the Baltics after a cold winter is not enough to give any boost - so far.'
The Baltic's capesize index also fell Wednesday, losing 6 points at 1,214. Average daily earnings for capesizes, which typically transport 150,000 tonne cargoes such as iron ore and coal, were down $14 to $4,205.
Shipments of iron ore, used to make steel, account for about a third of seaborne volumes on the larger capesizes, and brokers said price developments remained a key factor for dry freight.
Spot iron ore prices drifted to a more than two-week low, reflecting slower buying interest from Chinese mills as they wait for steel demand in the world's top consumer to strengthen.
Shanghai steel futures hit fresh 7-1/2-month lows on Wednesday, before bouncing back on worries slower economic growth would curb appetite for the building material that is typically most in demand in the seasonally strong second quarter.
Average daily earnings for smaller vessels were firm with handysize ships' rates up $30 to $8,026 and those for supramax ships up $16 to $9,458.
(Reporting by Shruti Chaturvedi in Bangalore, editing by William Hardy) Keywords: BALTIC/
(Shruti.Chaturvedi@thomsonreuters.com)(+91 80 4135 5014)(within U.S. +1 646 223 8780)(Reuters Messaging: email@example.com)
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