Clean tanker rates on the transatlantic route edged higher on Monday helped by light bookings although the market continued to struggle with a glut of vessels.
Rates for medium-range (MR) tankers for 37,000 tonne cargoes on the TC2 route from Rotterdam to New York were at W124.38 in the Worldscale measure, or $8,306 a day when translated into average earnings.
That compared with W122.50 or $8,048 a day on Friday and W129.17 or $9,368 last Monday.
"Rates on the Europe - U.S. East Coast route declined 11.1 percent week-on-week as available capacity continued to put downside pressure on rates for cargoes out of the region," Deutsche Bank analyst Justin Yagerman said on Monday.
In January, earnings reached their highest level since early August last year.
"There are some prompt cargoes in the market which are likely to demand a premium but this will not transfer to the wider market," broker SSY said.
"If volumes continue to rise ... levels could start to firm as position lists start to thin out."
Rates for MR tankers on the U.S. Gulf (USG) to Europe route were negative at W80.00 or -$1,110 a day. That compared with W80.00 or -$948 a day on Friday and W78.21 or -$1,517 day last Monday.
In November last year, rates on that route rose to their highest level since earnings were published in June 2012, Baltic Exchange data showed. Buoyant demand for diesel products has boosted tanker activity on the U.S. Gulf to Europe route, known as the backhaul journey as vessels usually travel to the U.S. East Coast first and then pick up return cargoes.
Analysts expect the USG market to see gains this year helped in part by import demand from Latin America.
Long Range 1 tankers, carrying 55,000 tonne loads from the Middle East Gulf (MEG) to Japan, reached W104.32 or $7,427 a day. That compared with W105.59 or $7,818 a day on Friday and W107.27 or $7,857 a day last Monday.
"LR1 earnings have softened as activity remains subdued," SSY said.
Larger Long Range 2 or LR2, 75,000 tonne shipments on the Middle East Gulf to Japan route were at W97.40 or $13,473 a day. That compared with W97.50 or $13,475 a day on Friday and W94.25 or $11,479 last Monday.
Brokers said the LR2 market remained support. "Tonnage is tight," broker E.A. Gibson said.
Average earnings per day are calculated after a vessel covers its voyage costs such as bunker fuel and port fees.
(Reporting by Jonathan Saul, editing by David Evans)