Baltic index extends losses as vessel demand wanes

Jan 14 (Reuters) - The Baltic Exchange's dry bulk sea freight index fell for a sixth straight session on Friday, weighed down by weaker rates across vessel segments.

* The overall index, which factors in rates for capesize, panamax and supramax vessels, fell 109 points, or 5.8%, to 1,764, its lowest since early March 2021.

* The index has lost nearly 23% this week.

* The capesize index dropped 250 points, or 14.3%, to 1,496, its lowest since late Feb. 2021. The index is down 38% this week.

* Average daily earnings for capesizes, which transport 150,000-tonne cargoes such as iron ore and coal, dropped by $2,070 to $12,407.

* "This is normal seasonal softness going into mid to late January throughout February, the biggest reason is Chinese New Year. This year we need to add on Beijing Winter Olympics and weather disruptions in Brazil," said Randy Giveans, vice-president, equity research, at Jefferies.

* "The near-term outlook is certainly going to be weak and then we think there will be some pent up demand that boosts rates in late February into March and April."

* China's December iron ore imports slumped 18% month-on-month to 86.07 million tonnes, sending its annual purchase to 1.12 billion tonnes in 2021, down from the record high a year earlier, customs data showed.

* Heavy rains have pounded the mining region of Minas Gerais state in southeast Brazil relentlessly for the past two weeks, while French steel pipe maker Vallourec has suspended mining operations in Pau Branco.

* The panamax index slipped 77 points, or 3.1%, to 2,375, its lowest since Dec. 21.

* Average daily earnings for panamaxes, which ferry 60,000-70,000 tonne coal or grain cargoes, fell by $693 to $21,376.

* The supramax index fell 18 points to its lowest level since April at 1,897. (Reporting by Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi)

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