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Baltic index at near 2-wk peak on higher demand for larger vessels

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Aug 4 (Reuters) - The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index hit a near two-week high on Tuesday, as rates across capesize and panamax vessel segments gained.

* The Baltic dry index, which tracks rates for ships ferrying dry bulk commodities and reflects rates for capesize, panamax and supramax vessels, was up 78 points, or 5.6%, at 1,463, its highest since July 22.

* The Baltic capesize index rose 197 points, or 8.6%, to 2,494, its highest level in two weeks.

* Average daily earnings for capesizes, which typically transport cargoes of 170,000 tonnes to 180,000 tonnes, including iron ore and coal, were up $1,636 at $20,687.

* Iron ore futures extended gains on Tuesday on optimism about economic recovery prospects for top steel producer and consumer China.

* The panamax index was up 62 points, or 4.9%, at 1,316, also at a two-week peak.

* Average daily earnings for panamaxes, which usually carry coal or grain cargoes of about 60,000 tonnes to 70,000 tonnes, rose $553 to $11,840.

* However, the supramax index edged down 11 points to 851, slipping to its lowest in over three weeks. (Reporting by Diptendu Lahiri in Bengaluru; editing by Uttaresh.V)