A slow week for product tankers saw rates moderate, while VLCCs saw a slight improvement.

The Baltic Clean Tanker Index slipped 17 points over the course of the week, dropping from 1,716 on 17 June to 1,699 on Friday.

Brokers described the market as “quiet” or “muted” as rates dipped.

“The Middle East Gulf has suffered muted activity on both the LRs and MRs this week. As a result, freight has been put under pressure,” the Baltic Exchange said in its weekly note.

Earnings for LR2s on the TC1 route from the Middle East to Japan fell to just under $48,800 per day on a time charter equivalent (TCE) basis, down from $56,100 per day a week earlier, according to data from the exchange.

Rates for LR1s on the TC5 route covering the same journey slipped to just over $50,000 per day on Friday, down from $57,900 seven days earlier.

Shipbroker Howe Robinson Partners said product tankers headed to the Far East would continue to see drops into next week.

“Although we see potential volume missing, at the beginning of the week we expect charterers will continue to test rates as tonnage looks well supplied with approx. Twelve under 15-year-old ships available up to 5 July and a further 10 over 15-years ships,” the broker said.

On the other side of the Suez Canal, Howe Robinson said it did not see as much rate softening as expected, but still forecast dips for trans-Atlantic MRs as tonnage lists build there and will only lengthen further in the Mediterranean.

The route from Europe to the US East Coast finished the week at $32,478 per day, losing $1,022 on Friday. The cross-Mediterranean TC6 slipped to $95,300 per day, losing $704.

Crude tankers improved during the week, with the Baltic Dirty Tanker Index inching upward by 14 points to end Friday at 1,219.

That came as VLCCs gained about $2,800 over the course of the week, finishing at nearly -$26,100 per day after hitting -$25,800 per day on Thursday.

The Baltic Exchange said the Middle East Gulf to US Gulf route jumped two points on a Worldscale basis, finishing the week at about -$37,400 per day.

The benchmark Middle East to China route rose four WorldScale points over the week. A ship on that voyage would earn a TCE of -$14,845 per day.

TCE earnings on from West Africa to China rose to -$12,360 per day, while the US Gulf to China route finished the week improving by $618,000 to $6.17m, though it remained in the red on a TCE basis at -$13,100 per day.

“The new week ahead will bring owners new hope as we still have the majority of the second decade to cover,” Howe Robinson said, referring to the month’s second ten-day chartering window.

“Rates [are] steady/firm and will remain so and could well firm some more if the Middle East Gulf business is supported by activity in the West, which has, for the last couple of days, been slower.”