NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Dry-bulk shipping stocks were mostly higher Friday, with fan-favorite DryShips ( DRYS) leading the pack after a week that saw a bevy of executives gather in New York for a one-day industry conference put on by Jeffries & Co.

In China on Thursday, the country's premier, Wen Jiabao, vowed to keep the world's third-largest economy humming with further aggressive stimuli.

For the companies that haul iron ore and other raw materials across the seas, that would appear to be a positive sign, since much of their trade depends on a robust Chinese industrial economy that requires heaps of raw material.

The Chinese government also released a report on industrial output Friday, which rose 12.3% in August compared with a year ago. That means the pace of growth has quickened. But the premier's speech at a World Economic Forum event in China indicated that the government still felt that the country's economic standing remained wobbly enough for Beijing to keep its foot on the accelerator.

Still, shipping rates as measured by the Baltic Exchange slipped 2% Friday to $33,555 a day for Capesize vessels, the largest class of dry-bulk ship on the seas, while Chinese spot iron-ore rates continued to slip lower, trading at $93.88 a ton, the lowest point since mid-summer.

Aside from fundamentals, DryShips' stock in particular could be benefiting from an increased appetite for risk, said Mike Bellafiore, a trader and partner at SMB Capital in New York, in an email. Stocks like DryShips, he continued, which have plummeted from the highs they reached during the boom years (in DryShips' case, above $100) and into the single digits "are catching the attention of investors and traders as they start to accelerate to the upside."

Bellafiore pointed to some unusual call buying in DryShips options, which would indicate a bullish sentiment among traders.

Shares of DryShips closed Friday's session at $6.74, up 39 cents, or about 5%, on heavier-than-average volume, giving up some of their earlier gains.

Star Bulk Carriers ( SBLK) was another leading gainer in the sector, with its stock advancing 16 cents, or 4.6%, to $3.68. Another big mover was OceanFrieght ( OCNF); its shares closed Friday up 13 cents, or 8.7%, at $1.63.

Two big dry-bulk names were in the red, however. DryShips rivals Diana Shipping ( DSX) and Genco Shipping & Trading ( GNK) both slipped by about 1.2%, to $13.60 and $21.75, respectively.

Elsewhere, the gains were moderate. Navios Maritime Holdings ( NM) rose 1% to $5.05; Eagle Bulk ( EGLE) added 2.8% to $5.45; and Excel Maritime ( EXM) was up by just a penny to $7.21.

At the Jeffries conference in New York, which ran all day Wednesday, it was a who's who of high-level executives, including those from Navios, Genco, Diana, Excel, Eagle, DryShips, OceanFreight, Paragon Shipping ( PRGN), Safe Bulkers ( SBLK) and FreeSeas ( FREE).

-- Written by Scott Eden in New York

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Scott Eden has covered business -- both large and small -- for more than a decade. Prior to joining TheStreet.com, he worked as a features reporter for Dealmaker and Trader Monthly magazines. Before that, he wrote for the Chicago Reader, that city's weekly paper. Early in his career, he was a staff reporter at the Dow Jones News Service. His reporting has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Men's Journal, the St. Petersburg (Fla.) Times, and the Believer magazine, among other publications. He's also the author of Touchdown Jesus (Simon & Schuster, 2005), a nonfiction book about Notre Dame football fans and the business and politics of big-time college sports. He has degrees from Notre Dame and Washington University in St. Louis.

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