Global shipping rates slump in latest sign of economic slowdown

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Freight rates for dry-bulk and container ships, carriers of most of the world's raw materials and finished goods, have plunged over the last six months in the latest sign the global economy is slowing significantly.

The Baltic Dry Index, measure of ship transport costs for materials like iron ore and coal, has fallen by 47 percent since mid-2018, when a trade dispute between the United States and China resulted in the world's two biggest economies slapping import tariffs on each other's goods.

Dry-bulk commodities are taken as a leading economic indicator, because they are used in core industrial sectors like steelmaking and power generation, and analysts say the recent declines in activity point to a serious economic slowdown.

"Signs that the U.S. and China remain well apart in trade talks continued to weigh on sentiment in commodity markets," ANZ bank said in a note on Friday.

This was after U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Thursday the United States and China were "miles and miles" from resolving their issues.

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