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Dry Bulk Market: No Capesize Transactions During First Quarter of 2019 Highlight Market Decline, as Prices Decline in Smaller Ship Classes

A reduction of 50% in the Baltic Dry Index from mid-December until the end of January has created “waves” in the S&P market as well, with values falling. In its latest weekly report, shipbroker Intermodal said that “contrary to the December 2018 forecasts but in line with the expectations of the dry bulk market, the first quarter of the year closed negatively. The BDI index decreased by around 50% from mid-December until the end of January and moved to the ytd low of 595 points on 11 February. Although a moderate drop was expected – having become a “seasonal phenomenon”, with subsequent losses before and during the Chinese lunar year – the magnitude of the decline in rates and indexes was largely unexpected. Moreover, the extended Capesize weakness continues to keep the BDI below 700 points despite the fact that earnings for the rest of the sizes have substantially recovered in the past weeks”.

According to Mr. Konstantinos Kontomichis, SnP Broker with Intermodal, “as was expected, in a period of three months with low freight rates, asset prices were also affected. However, naturally, the decrease on assets did not equal the decline of the freight rates. In the Capesize sector, it is notable that within the first quarter of 2019, there were no SnP transactions. Owners of the specific segment, despite having witnessed a dramatic fall in rates are so far showing resistance. In the Panamax sector, the ‘TAURUS OCEAN’ (78,819dwt-blt ’08, Japan) was sold last November for a price in the region of $14.5m, while a few days ago it was reported that the ‘ATLAS B’ (76,554dwt-blt ’08, Japan), was sold for a price in the region of $12.1m, similarly resulting to a 17% decrease”.

Kontomichis added that “the smaller decline of asset prices can be observed in Supramaxes of around 10 years old. The ‘OCEAN COLOSSUS’ (58,831dwt-blt ’10, Japan), was sold at end of December for a price in the region of $15.5m, while her identical sister ‘KOREAN LILY’ (58,713dwt-blt ’10, Japan), was sold two weeks ago for a price in the region of $14.2m, indicating only a 8% decrease. There is greater asset price elasticity for Handysizes than that observed in Supramaxes. Indicatively, the ‘ASIAN BEAUTY’ (28,218dwt-blt ’11, Japan) was sold last November for a price in the region of $9.5m, while a sister vessel, the ‘TOKOMARU BAY’ (28,258dwt-blt ’11, Japan), was committed a few days ago for a price in the region of $8.2m, indicating a 14% decrease. It should be noted that the aforementioned comparisons are indicative and do not accurately represent the exact asset price decreases across segments. They do, nevertheless, offer us an indication of the underlying pricing trends, coupled with how prices fared in the past few months”, Intermodal’s analyst said.

He concluded his analysis by noting that “the slow market recovery to pre-Christmas levels or similar, does not seem to be creating such a big concern in the SnP market. Despite the discounted rates, SnP activity remains elevated overall even though sellers have shown greater than expected resistance. There appears to be a positive sentiment generally, resulting in many ship-owners buying low or replacing older tonnage with more modern units. All in all, there is some optimism that there will be an increase of freight rates in q2 and q3, as indicated by charterers asking for vessels for period charters in far better levels compared to the spot market”.
Nikos Roussanoglou, Hellenic Shipping News Worldwide

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