The dry bulk market seems unable to turn sentiment round and is still looking for direction. The BCI's 887-point free fall last week had an obvious negative influence on the market, decelerating the “positive” movement of the other dry bulker segments. Although average freight rates have improved considerably compared to average levels of Q3, they are still well below expectations built up before the last quarter. It is clear by now that this bitter taste will usher us into the New Year as well. Under the current freight environment and with rates looking unable to bounce back up for longer periods, it seems that investment interest is scaling back currently.
In the New Building sector, the very strong 2013 in terms of orders and the equally strong beginning of this year as well, originally allowed Shipbuilders to become more relaxed as their slots were fully booked for 2015 and the 1st half of 2016. As the last quarter of 2014 is nearing to its end, the lack of demand for securing new slots and the increasing number of non-effective orders has changed sentiment dramatically though, pushing yards to become more accommodating in their price expectations and even offer substantial discounts in certain cases. As a matter of fact, Top Chinese shipyards are currently willing to offer Ultramax and Kamsarmax slots at USD 27.0m and USD 29.0m respectively, but even prices like that are considered too expensive to attract the attention of owners who could be considering a newbuilding order. In the same spirit, resale candidates are also facing lack of interest as the current freight market is not tempting enough for an owner to pay the premium.
At the same time, the downward correction of demolition prices during the past weeks by more than $50/$60 per long ton, has had an immediate effect on older assets, although given the highs demo prices reached this year, even after such corrections, the current levels of $430/$440 per long ton, offered in the Indian sub-Continent for dry bulk units are still relatively attractive. Therefore vessels built up to 1995 are currently in the market for scrap related prices, with small differentiations relative to their size, SS/DD position and delivery place. Tonnages built within the first decade of 2000 enjoy the most interest, while at the same time these vessels present heavily corrected prices, which are comparable to 2012 levels.
The softening of Japan’s currency has simultaneously brought additional sale candidates in the market, with buyers concentrating in modern Japanese built tonnage with the view that a quick profit could be locked by what looks like another mini-cycle in terms of asset values. As evidenced by the table above table, vessels prices are very close to bottom levels reached back in the December 2012 – January 2013 period, while the freight market has been fairing at better levels compared to that period, possibly implying opportunities to be found in the second-hand market.
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