Gains in panamax, smaller vessels buoy Baltic dry bulk index

June 24 (Reuters) - The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index tracking rates for ships ferrying dry bulk commodities edged up on Thursday, as gains in the panamax and smaller segments offset a slight dip in rates of the larger capesize vessels.

* The overall index, which factors in rates for capesize, panamax, supramax and handysize shipping vessels, advanced 28 points, or 0.9%, to 3,175 points.

* The capesize index shed seven points, to 3,861 points.

* The index, which tracks ships that typically transporting 150,000-tonne cargoes such as iron ore and coal, touched a one-month high last week at 4,212 points -- propelling the main index to an 11-year peak -- but has since retreated.

* The retreat could be attributed to reduced exports via West Australia "and a 'sudden' release of vessels from discharge ports in China and India," ship broker Fearnleys said in a weekly note.

* "However, the last couple of days, the North Atlantic has been much more active, and rates improved significantly. This has infected the other segments sentiment as well, thus levels seem to increase over the coming days," Fearnleys added.

* Average daily earnings for capesizes fell $61 to $32,018.

* Benchmark iron ore futures, for September delivery, rose 0.9% to 1,165 yuan a tonne.

* The panamax index added 97 points, or 2.8% at 3,515 points, snapping a four-session long streak of declines.

* Average daily earnings for panamaxes, which usually carry coal or grain cargoes of about 60,000 to 70,000 tonnes, increased $879 to $31,639.

* Among smaller vessels, the supramax index rose 12 points to 2,864 points.

(Reporting by Arpan Varghese in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)

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