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Baltic index falls as lower rates for capesize, panamax weigh

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July 15 (Reuters) - The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index fell on Wednesday, weighed by capesize rates hitting their lowest level in nearly a month and lower earnings at the panamax segment.

* The Baltic dry index, which tracks rates for ships ferrying dry bulk commodities and reflects rates for capesize, panamax and supramax vessels, fell 46 points, or about 2.6%, to 1,696.

* The Baltic capesize index dropped 141 points, or 4.6%, to 2,941, touching its lowest level since June 17.

* Average daily earnings for capesizes, which typically transport cargoes of 170,000 tonnes to 180,000 tonnes, including iron ore and coal, was down by $1,175 at $24,387.

* Rising iron ore demand from China as the world's second-largest economy opening up for business has helped the capesize index gain 51% so far this year.

* "Taking into consideration that the Capesize segment has witnessed exceedingly firming activity since the beginning of the summer season, it was a matter of time that charterers reaction will add pressure on the market," ship broker Intermodal said in a weekly research note on Tuesday.

* The panamax index was down 18 points, or 1%, at 1,579.

* Average daily earnings for panamaxes, which usually carry coal or grain cargoes of about 60,000 tonnes to 70,000 tonnes, fell by $164 to $14,211.

* However, the supramax index rose 15 points, or 1.7%, to 890. (Reporting by Diptendu Lahiri in Bengaluru; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel)