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Oil-Tanker Rates Rise on January Cargoes Booked Before Holidays

Rates for the largest tankers on the busiest trade route for them rose on speculation traders and oil companies are booking cargoes for January before next week’s holidays.

Charter costs for very large crude carriers hauling 2 million barrels of Saudi Arabian oil to Japan gained for a third day, adding 1.4 percent to 47.48 industry-standard Worldscale points, according to the Baltic Exchange, the London-based publisher of freight rates.

The supply of ships competing for cargoes in the Persian Gulf matches demand for the rest of the month, SSY Consultancy & Research, a unit of the world’s second-largest shipbroker, said in an e-mailed report today. Charters for next month are being offered after the first was booked last week, according to Kevin Sy, a freight-derivatives broker at Marex Spectron Ltd. in Singapore.

“With December loadings winding down, the question is whether January cargoes will surface to market in any numbers before the holidays to see activity improve again,” Frode Moerkedal, an Oslo-based analyst at RS Platou Markets AS, said in an e-mailed note today. “Brokers said they expected a flat rate development.”

Daily earnings for the vessels on the Middle East-to-Asia voyage rose 7.4 percent to $16,860, according to the exchange. Those assessments don’t reflect owners cutting speed to save on fuel, their biggest expense. The price of ship fuel, known as bunkers, fell 0.4 percent to $608.82 a metric ton, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Worldscale points are a percentage of a nominal rate for more than 320,000 specific routes. Flat rates for every voyage, quoted in U.S. dollars a ton, are revised annually by the Worldscale Association in London to reflect changing fuel costs, port tariffs and exchange rates.

The Baltic Dirty Tanker Index, a broader measure of oil-shipping costs that includes vessels smaller than VLCCs, rose for a ninth session, adding 1.1 percent to 754, the highest since May 22, according to the exchange.

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