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Baltic index hits over 1-month peak on stronger capesize, panamax rates

May 5 (Reuters) - The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index rose to an over one-month high on Thursday, boosted by higher rates for capesize and panamax segments.

* The overall index, which factors in rates for capesize, panamax and supramax shipping vessels, rose 159 points, or 6.4%, to 2,644 points, the highest since March 15.

* The capesize index rose 402 points, or 17.3%, to 2,721 points.

* Chinese iron ore and steel futures rose on Thursday after the country's central bank said it would take monetary policy steps to help businesses hit by the COVID-19 outbreak and support a recovery in consumption.

* Average daily earnings for capesizes, which typically transport 150,000-tonne cargoes such as iron ore and coal, increased $3,334 to $22,569.

* The panamax index gained 97 points, or 3.2%, to 3,110 points, hitting its highest since March 31.

* Average daily earnings for panamaxes, which usually carry coal or grain cargoes of about 60,000 to 70,000 tonnes, rose $870 to $27,986.

* Tunisia's state grains agency is believed to have purchased about 100,000 tonnes of soft wheat and 75,000 tonnes of animal feed barley in an international tender which closed on Thursday, European traders said.

* The supramax index was unchanged at 2,732 points.

(Reporting by Roshan Abraham in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri)

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