Increased Activity Can't Budge Moribund Rates

Friday, October 22, 1999
A flurry of activity in the main Middle East large tanker markets failed to move rates from their moribund levels last week, shipping brokers said. However, with November cargoes having become available recently, some brokers said some firming of freight levels could be expected. Others, though, said that the large numbers of vessels - including modern ships - likely to be available over the next two months will limit any rate movement. Eastbound VLCC rates slid slowly backwards through the week with Japan falling toward W50 from W52.5 and Korea below the 50-point mark. Older vessels, particularly to China were being fixed at a further five point discount. Despite a lack of activity westbound rates for the Continent firmed very slightly to around W48 while those to the U.S. Gulf held steady at W47.5 before beginning to tail off at the end of the week. Mediterranean million barrel trading burst into life midweek on a shortage of prompt vessels, after a very quiet start. Suezmax rates briefly sparkled, shooting up to W90 and beyond for some short voyages, from a previous W80, but then slipped back toward the mid 80s by the end of the week. Meanwhile Aframax cross Mediterranean rates lost their shine of the previous two weeks and fell a further five points toward W80. Brokers said charterers were switching between vessel types as rates rose. The North Sea remained flat with modern 80,000-ton units taking a two and a half point premium above the benchmark W80 and older ships the same level of discount for the Continent. -- (Reuters)

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