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Baltic index gains for fifth straight session

Feb 20 (Reuters) - The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index rose for the fifth straight session on Thursday, supported by an uptick in demand across all vessel segments.

* The Baltic index, which tracks rates for capesize, panamax and supramax vessels that ferry dry bulk commodities, rose 15 points, or 3.2%, to 480.

* The capesize index gained for a third straight session, up 9 points but still at -232.

* "The worst may just about be over for the big ships," ship broker Fearnleys said in a note on Wednesday.

* "Average nominal daily earnings still admittedly unchanged w-o-w, but sentiment turning to careful optimism and Far East cargo flows in particular increasing somewhat."

* Shipping demand from China continued to be subdued as the coronavirus outbreak has forced authorities to shut factories and mills.

* Average daily earnings for capesizes, which typically transport 170,000 to 180,000 tonne cargoes including iron ore and coal, rose $22 to $2,735.

* The panamax index rose 33 points, or 4.6%, to 755, the highest since Jan. 22.

* Average daily earnings for panamaxes, which usually carry coal or grain cargoes of about 60,000 tonnes to 70,000 tonnes, increased $300 to $6,796.

* The supramax index rose 16 points to 505. (Reporting by Brijesh Patel in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)