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Dry Bulk Losers: DryShips, Safe Bulkers

(Dry-bulk shipping item updated to correct a misreported company name. Safe Bulkers announced an equity offering Monday, not Star Bulk Carriers.)

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of DryShips (DRYS) were among the losers in the dry-bulk-shipping sector Monday, as stocks fell across the board on another bout of worrying that China may make further moves to tighten up its monetary policy.

That could have a dour effect on demand for the services of merchant ships carrying raw materials to China's booming economy, which comprises a large portion of the dry-bulk sector's business. Complicating matters are the ongoing iron-ore price talks between the world's biggest mining companies and Chinese buyers.

The miners are expected to jack prices by 60% or more and to press for quarterly contracts as opposed to annual.

Still, many industry observers believe that investors overreact to the day-to-day changes in the demand outlook for seaborne freight transport.

DryShips' stock, the most liquid and most volatile name in the group, declined 25 cents, or 4%, to $5.92.

Safe Bulkers (SB) shares also fell sharply, pacing the decliners Monday, as investors reacted to the coming dilution caused by a 9-million-share stock offering. The company, which announced the sale Monday, said it plans to use proceeds from the issuance to expand its fleet and pay down debt.

Shares of the Athens-based bulk-carrier owner ended Monday's session down 43 cents, or 5%, at $8.24.

Despite the jittery equities markets, freight rates for dry-bulk cargoes continued to strengthen on Monday. Last week, European coal demand drove a number of ship fixtures. Meanwhile, strong prices for Chinese steel meant strong demand for iron ore which meant strong demand for the ships that carry it. The going spot rate for a capesize ship, on average worldwide, rose to nearly $43,000 a day, up 14% from a week ago, according to the Baltic Exchange, the London-based shipbroker that tracks cargo rates.

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