The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index, used to track rates for ships carrying dry commodities, fell on Friday for the 29th straight day after capesize rates reached new multi-year lows.
The main index, which factors in the average daily earnings of capesize, panamax, supramax and handysize dry bulk transport vessels, dipped 0.83 percent or 6 points to 714 points. The index has fallen almost 8 percent this week.
The Baltic Exchange's capesize index lost 10 points to reach 1,095 points, touching lows last seen in 2008.
"Capesize rates maintained its downward trend with rate pressure in both the Pacific and Atlantic basin," analyst Frode Morkedal of RS Platou Markets said in a note.
Average daily earnings for capesizes, which typically transport 150,000 tonne cargoes such as iron ore and coal, fell to $2,779, a drop of $98.
Shipments of iron ore, a raw material in steel manufacturing, account for about a third of sea-borne volumes on the larger capesizes, and brokers said price developments remained a key factor for dry freight.
Shanghai steel futures fell to record lows on Friday and are heading for their fifth weekly loss in six as slower demand in top steel market China dragged down prices, trapping iron ore at 2-1/2-year troughs.
"According to the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the Chinese steel industry saw profits decline close to 50 percent in H1/12 - a tangible data point underlining that the industry is not yet at a balanced point," Erik Nikolai Stavseth, analyst at Arctic Securities, said.
The average daily earnings for handysize and supramax ships were also down, at $7,179 and $8,798, respectively.
The Baltic's panamax index was up 0.62 percent or 5 points to 806 points on Friday. Earnings for panamaxes, which usually transport 60,000 to 70,000 tonne cargoes of coal or grains, gained $41 to $6,420.
"Also a small light shined in the Panamax segment as grain traders looking for ships found limited supply - something that helped spike sentiment in the Atlantic basin," Morkedal said.
Growing ship supply has been outpacing commodity demand for some time and is widely expected to weigh on dry bulk freight rates in the coming months.