Transatlantic clean ship rates seen staying muted

* Heating oil demand seen boosting MR demand in Q4

* LR market seen struggling to make big gains

LONDON, Oct 9 (Reuters) - Clean tanker rates for refinedpetroleum products on top export routes were broadly steady onTuesday with lighter business capping earnings in thetransatlantic market.

Rates for medium-range (MR) tankers for 37,000 tonne cargoesfrom Rotterdam to New York were at W129.38, or $7,760 a day whentranslated into average earnings, compared with W130.00 or$7,555 a day on Monday and W131.46 or $7,752 a day last Tuesday.

"The fronthaul transatlantic MR market continued to softenlast week as enquiry slowed. The cargoes that were put forwardwere almost exclusively for mid-month dates, reducing promptdemand and ensuring charterers were in no rush to fix," brokerSSY said.

In September, MR rates reached their highest in six months.

"Product tanker rates declined modestly ... as an increasein the available supply of tankers in the Atlantic was largelyoffset by declining bunkers," Deutsche Bank said, referring tolower fuel costs.

In April last year, rates reached their highest since 2008on a jump in U.S. gasoline demand, helping reduce the number oftankers available for hire. Since then, average earnings haveremained volatile.

"The product market largely favours MRs in the short-termparticularly as we head into the winter and Asian middledistillate demand will be augmented by heating oil builds in theAtlantic and rising product imports from the refinery-deficientregions of Latin America and West Africa," consultants MSI said.

Average earnings per day are calculated after a vesselcovers its voyage costs such as bunker fuel and port fees.Negative rates indicate costs are greater than earnings.

Analysts said reduced refinery capacity in the AtlanticBasin could boost long-haul demand for the wider products tankersector in coming years, helped by the delivery of fewer tankers.

Typical Long Range 2 or LR2, 75,000 tonne shipments on theMiddle East Gulf to Japan route were at W101.45 in theworldscale measure of freight rates, or $10,929 a day whentranslated into average earnings, from W101.25 on Monday or$10,052 a day and W100.23 or $9,309 a day last Tuesday. In Julyrates hit their highest level since late October of 2011.

Brokers said the LR2 market saw brisk demand to book vesselsin recent days.

"With LR1s still struggling, (LR2s) are finding any realincreases tough," broker E.A. Gibson said.

Long Range 1 tankers, carrying 55,000 tonne loads from theMiddle East Gulf to Japan, were at W108.25 on Tuesday, fromW107.86 on Monday and W110.42 last Tuesday.

In the Mediterranean, 30,000 tonne shipments ex-Algeria tosouthern Europe were at W163.61 on Tuesday, versus W158.28 onMonday and W158.14 last Tuesday.

(Reporting by Jonathan Saul; editing by James Jukwey)

((jonathan.saul@thomsonreuters.com)(+ 44 207 542 4357)(ReutersMessaging: jonathan.saul.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))