Analysts predict global dry-bulk cargo shipping will remain in the doldrums until early next year at least, which will hurt the profitability of the world's dry-bulk shippers. China Cosco Holdings, the world's largest dry-bulk shipper and the dominant international dry-bulk shipper in Greater China, will incur losses in the fourth quarter and early next year, analysts forecast. SinoPac analyst Jack Xu expects the Baltic Dry Index, a measure of commodity shipping rates, will remain below 1,000 until the first half of next year. 'I expect the Baltic Dry Index to rebound in the second half of 2009, which will help China Cosco come closer to break even for its dry-bulk cargo business.' The index collapsed from 2,221 on October 10 to 1,048 on October 27, and then fell below the 1,000 mark to 982 the following day. It is now below 700. For dry-bulk shippers to break even, the index should stay above 2,000, said Core Pacific-Yamaichi analyst Roslyn Ji. 'All dry-bulk shippers will make losses given that the Baltic Dry Index will remain below 1,000 in the coming months.' As dry-bulk cargo accounted for about 90 per cent of China Cosco's profits in the first half, Ms Ji predicted the state-owned shipping giant would incur losses in the fourth quarter and first quarter next year at least. Mr Xu said: 'My prediction is for China Cosco to make a small profit for the whole of 2009. The reason is the company has locked up 25 to 30 per cent of its dry-bulk business in the first half of 2008.' The index rebounded slightly from 663 on December 5 to 671 on Monday, which Mr Xu attributed to hopes of mainland steelmakers sealing contracts with global iron ore suppliers soon. Ms Ji dismissed it as a minor technical rebound. A Bloomberg report attributed the rise to expectations that a US economic stimulus plan may revive global demand for iron ore. Yesterday, one day after the rebound of the index, China Cosco soared 11.8 per cent to HK$5.98, while its Shanghai shares rose 3 per cent to 10.45 yuan (HK$11.78). Separately, Fu Yuning, the chairman of China Merchants Holdings (International), a Hong Kong-listed port operator, said that growth at its Hong Kong and Shenzhen ports would slow due to the global economic crisis. Mr Fu, who is also president of the company's state-owned parent, China Merchants Group, said he would slow down the firm's expansion plans in expectation of slowing throughput.