Rubber Declines as Slow Demand Counters Impact of Weakening Yen

Rubber dropped, reversing gains, as sluggish demand for the commodity used in tires outweighed a slide in the Japanese currency to a four-year low.

Rubber for delivery in September fell 0.9 percent to settle at 250.9 yen a kilogram ($2,516 a metric ton) on the Tokyo Commodity Exchange, after losing 8.4 percent last week.

March consumer confidence in China, the largest rubber consumer, declined for the first time since December, according to the Beijing-based National Bureau of Statistics. The index contracted 5.6 percent to 102.6 points, the bureau said today.

“Concerns over sluggish demand in China and the European debt crisis weighed on sentiment,” said Chaiwat Muenmee, analyst at Bangkok-based commodity broker DS Futures Co.

Futures climbed as much as 2 percent earlier today as the yen tumbled to a four-year low against the dollar after the Group of 20 nations didn’t oppose Japan’s policy stimulus. The Japanese currency has weakened 15 percent this year, boosting the appeal of yen-denominated contracts.

Stockpiles held at Japanese warehouses fell 0.8 percent to 15,668 tons on April 10, according to data from the Rubber Trade Association of Japan. Natural-rubber inventories gained 1,764 tons to 119,149 tons, the highest since February 2010, based on a survey of nine warehouses in Shanghai, Shandong, Yunnan, Hainan and Tianjin, the Shanghai exchange said April 19.

China’s rubber imports in March surged 22 percent to 230,000 tons, according to the Beijing-based Customs General Administration. Rubber for September delivery on the SHFE fell 3.7 percent to close at 18,615 yuan ($3,012) a ton.

Thai rubber free-on-board rose 1.9 percent to 80.50 baht ($2.81) a kilogram today, according to Rubber Research Institute of Thailand. The price fell to 79 baht on April 19, the lowest since October 2009.

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