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Oil-Tanker Rates Little Changed as Glut Offsets Increased Demand

Rates for the largest oil tankers on the benchmark trade route were little changed today as the glut of vessels offset the most bookings in four months.

Charter costs for very large crude carriers hauling 2 million barrels of Saudi Arabian oil to Japan fell 0.5 percent to 31.27 industry-standard Worldscale points, according to the Baltic Exchange, the London-based publisher of freight rates. Daily losses on the voyage narrowed to $3,130 from $3,409, according to the exchange.

Traders have booked 126 vessels for April, which will be the highest since December, according to Kevin Sy, a Singapore-based freight-derivatives broker at Marex Spectron Pte. Nine more charters weren’t enough to boost rates because there are still 60 ships available, he said in an e-mailed report today.

“Another action packed day,” Sy said in the report. “But with still close to 60 ships available, rates are unlikely to rally anytime soon.”

Rates have been negative since March 28, according to the exchange. Those assessments don’t reflect owners cutting speeds to save on fuel, their biggest expense. The price of ship fuel, known as bunkers, slid 0.5 percent to $617.39 a metric ton, according to data compiled by Bloomberg from 25 ports worldwide.

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 wider measure of oil-shipping costs that includes smaller vessels, fell 3.8 percent to 638, the lowest since Feb. 7, according to the exchange.

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