(Dry-bulk sector item updated to reflect closing stock prices)NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Dry-bulk shipping stocks advanced sharply Monday as the broader equities market surged and shipping rates strengthened following the holiday slowdown. The Baltic Dry Index, a gauge of the dry-bulk spot market across vessel sizes, rose 4.5% to 3,140 Monday, while the going rate for a capesize ship on the spot market approached $40,000 a day, up 7.5% from last week. Australian miners BHP Billiton ( BHP) and Fortescue each booked a capesize vessel to haul iron ore to China on Monday morning, fixing the voyages at $12.25 a ton, up from $11.50 last week, but down from the $13.50 a ton those voyages were fetching a month ago, in early December. Some analysts see near-term support for rates to climb higher. Omar Nokta, an analyst with Dahlman Rose in New York, wrote in a note to clients Monday that "there appears to be some pent-up demand likely to come to market soon." He said 26 capesize ships have been booked on the spot market for January; the 2009 monthly average came to 105 bookings. Stronger steel and iron ore prices also appeared to help shipping rates (and stocks) on Monday. Natasha Boyden, an analyst at Cantor Fitzgerald, pointed to significant iron-ore buying out of India recently. The optimism on the first trading day of the year comes as shippers take stock of a newbuildings orderbook that many fear will cause a glut in 2010 and beyond. But such concerns seemed distant during Monday's session.
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