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Oil-Tanker Rates Snap Rally as Demand Weakens Before Year End

Oil-tanker rates halted a five-day rally as owners of the ships sought cargoes before year-end holidays start next week.

Costs for very large crude carriers shipping 2 million-barrel cargoes of Saudi Arabian oil to Japan fell 0.4 percent to 48.88 Worldscale points, according to the Baltic Exchange in London. They had gained for five consecutive sessions before today, according to the bourse.

“There does not seem to be much appetite from owners to push it further at the moment,” Halvor Ellefsen, a broker at Galbraith’s Ltd. in London, said today by e-mail. While demand strengthened this week, some owners sought cargoes for their vessels before the start of the break, he said.

The Baltic Exchange will stop publishing for the year on Dec. 24 before Christmas and New Year holidays start in the U.K. and other countries. Average earnings for VLCCs on the benchmark trade route gained 31 percent this year to $11,208 a day compared with 2011, the bourse’s data show.

The Baltic Dirty Tanker Index, a wider measure of crude oil transport costs, fell 0.1 percent today to 778 points, according to the exchange. Its average of 719 points so far in 2012 is the lowest since 2009 and compares with 782 last year.

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