Stronger rates across vessels pushes Baltic index to 5-month high

May 18 (Reuters) - The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index rose to a five-month peak on Wednesday, due to stronger rates across all vessel segments.

* The overall index, which factors in rates for capesize, panamax and supramax shipping vessels, was up 94 points, or 3%, at 3,189 points, the highest since Dec. 13

* The capesize index gained 214 points, or 5.4%, at 4,164 points, also at its five-month high.

* Average daily earnings for capesizes, which typically transport 150,000-tonne cargoes such as iron ore and coal, were up $1,777 to $34,531.

* However, Chinese iron ore and steel futures tumbled on Wednesday after a two-day rally, as traders were cautious about the risks from COVID-19 curbs that have clouded economic growth prospects in the world's biggest steel producer.

* The panamax index gained 73 points, or 2.2%, at 3,327 points.

* Average daily earnings for panamaxes, which usually carry coal or grain cargoes of about 60,000 to 70,000 tonnes, increased $649 to $29,939.

* Taiwan's MFIG purchasing group bought about 55,000 tonnes of animal feed corn expected to be sourced from South Africa in an international tender which closed on Wednesday, European traders said.

* The supramax index rose 13 points to 2,758 points. (Reporting by Roshan Abraham in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)

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