Shares of bulk shipping companies slumped yesterday after news of higher iron ore stockpiles at mainland ports and lower shipping prices indicated a slump in demand. China Cosco Holdings, operator of the world's largest bulk shipping fleet, fell 9.45 per cent to HK$13.22 yesterday, while China Shipping Development, the country's largest coastal bulk shipping company, closed 8.71 per cent lower at HK$16.14. Pacific Basin, the largest small bulk vessel operator, saw its stock drop 9.27 per cent to HK$9.40. The Baltic Dry Index of dry bulk shipping rates fell for a tenth session to 6,466 points yesterday, the lowest in seven months. Bulk freight rates dropped on a slowdown in demand growth for iron ore from China. Mainland ports had to digest inventories of 70 million tonnes of iron ore. Iron ore shipments will be lower either in second half of this year or in 2009, a Cazenove report said yesterday. The brokerage downgraded China Cosco to in-line from outperform and suggested investors sell the sector before the fourth quarter. It said the fair value for the company was HK$15. The market is expecting a rally for the Baltic Dry Index as a result of more coal shipments in the fourth quarter and a resumption of production at mainland plants closed for the Olympics.