Feb 18 (Reuters) - The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index rose to a two-week high on Tuesday, as higher rates for panamax and supramax vessels more than offset the capesize segment lingering in the negative zone.
* The Baltic index, which tracks rates for capesize, panamax and supramax vessels that ferry dry bulk commodities, rose 16 points, or 3.7%, to 450, registering its biggest one-day percentage gain since late November.
* The capesize index gained for a second straight session, up 30 points at -257.
* "Capesize is gradually gaining because there are other geographies besides China, like Australia is a big exporter, and the United states and Europe import from them," said Peter Sand, chief shipping analyst at BIMCO.
* However,"capesize won't come out of the negative zone until shipping activities become normal in and out of China."
* The index had dropped to a record low of -294 points on Friday.
* Shipping demand from China, the world's second-largest economy, has got a blow from the coronavirus outbreak that 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 $147 to $2,638.
* The panamax index rose 33 points, or 5%, to 690, its highest since Jan. 24.
* "The uptick noted in demand figures in the Atlantic and ECSA (East Coast South America) helped owners to push for higher (panamax) rates," analysts at Allied Shipbroking said in a weekly note on Monday.
* Average daily earnings for panamaxes, which usually carry coal or grain cargoes of about 60,000 tonnes to 70,000 tonnes, increased $290 to $6,207.
* The supramax index rose 7 points to 481. (Reporting by Diptendu Lahiri in Bengaluru; Editing by Vinay Dwivedi)