Tankers kept up their October rally this week.

The Baltic Dirty Tanker Index added 65 points this week, rising from 727 to finish at 763 on Friday, when the index added 13 points.

Both the Baltic Exchange and Gibson Shipbrokers reported a gradually firming market as activity picks up in their end of week notes.

"A good amount of VLCC activity throughout the week has enabled owners to push levels on, albeit gradually," Gibsons said of the Middle East Gulf market.

"The 1st decade November programme is nearing completion and availability is starting to balance out, with owners also being drawn towards the west as those markets strengthen."

The shipbroker said the last done fixtures to China were at Worldscale 43.5 "with the expectation that more is achievable", while estimated rates to the US Gulf of Mexico jumped to WS 22.5.

Suezmaxes in the Middle East saw gains too, with more expected, while the broker said rates for suezmaxes and aframaxes have firmed in West Africa, the Mediterranean, Gulf of Mexico and the North Sea.

Gibson said rates for a suezmax in West Africa have reached highs of WS 85, while aframaxes were even stronger.

In the Mediterranean, aframaxes hit WS 108 for a voyage to Ceyhan, WS 110 for a trip across the North Sea and WS 165 for a voyage from the east coast of Mexico.

In its weekly report, the Baltic Exchange described the VLC market as making "modest gains" — a few points on various routes — in both the Middle East Gulf and the Atlantic.

It attributed the growth in West Africa suezmax rates to tightening position lists.