All quiet as Greece takes a break

THE Greeks who have been dominating the sales and purchases market recently are only expected to make serious negotiations after their Easter holidays which start in Greece today .

Mr Alex Marr, a shipbroker from Wallem Shipbroking (Hongkong) Ltd, said there had not been much action in the market last week and he did not expect much to happen this week either until the Greeks returned.

''Ocean Tramping sold a handy sized bulker of about 33,880 deadweight tonnes (dwt), built in 1973 in the UK, to Chinese buyers for US$2.9 million last week,'' he said, adding that the price was at a normal level.

Prices of vessels had risen over the last two months and it was getting to the stage where some buyers were wondering whether they could justify the high prices, he said.

The Baltic Freight Index (BFI) after two months of almost continuous rises tapered off and is now holding steady.

Mr Marr said the rates were expected to soften up in the coming summer as is the usual pattern.

''Maybe in the back of the minds of some buyers, they were waiting to see the direction of the market,'' he said, adding that the price being paid now was already fairly high.

He pointed out that there were a combination of reasons why there were not so many sales.

And the Chinese scrapyards have also been busy buying old vessels, expanding their trade in a bid to become the world's largest shipbreaking nation.

Mainland firms have been joining forces to invest in dockyards and facilities to achieve this target.

And the China State Shipbuilding Corp expects to dismantle 700,000 dwt worth of obsolete foreign ships this year.