Feb 7 (Reuters) - The Baltic Exchange's main sea freight index, tracking rates for ships carrying dry bulk commodities, crept higher on Wednesday on firmer capesize rates.
* The overall index, which factors in rates for capesize, panamax, supramax and handysize shipping vessels, inched up 2 points, or 0.18 percent, to end at 1,097 points.
* "Following seasonal weakness in the dry bulk sector resulting from the Chinese New Year, we believe the outlook for the dry bulk shipping market is both clear and bright," analysts at Jefferies said in a note on Tuesday.
* The analysts noted "... improving global economic conditions, continued Chinese preference for high-quality dry bulk commodities, and minimal dry bulk carrier fleet growth in the coming years."
* The capesize index climbed 59 points, or 3.88 percent, to finish at 1,578 points.
* Average daily earnings for capesizes, which typically transport 150,000-tonne cargoes such as iron ore and coal, were up $487 at $12,471.
* The panamax index closed down 23 points, or 1.75 percent, at 1,293 points, falling for the eighth straight session.
* Average daily earnings for panamaxes, which usually carry coal or grain cargoes of about 60,000 to 70,000 tonnes, declined $184 to $10,371.
* Among smaller vessels, the supramax index lost 13 points to end at 844 points, and the handysize index dropped 6 points to finish at 532 points. (Reporting by Sumita Layek in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D'Souza)