Rubber surged to a 10-month high on speculation that demand for the commodity used in tires may increase after car sales in the U.S. rose in January.
The contract for delivery in July rallied as much as 4.3 percent to 337.4 yen a kilogram ($3,639 a metric ton) on the Tokyo Commodity Exchange, the highest level for the most-active contract since March 29, before trading at 331.9 yen at 12:26 p.m. local time. Futures rose 3.8 percent last week, the eighth advance in nine weeks.
Toyota Motor Corp. and Ford Motor Co. led the four largest automakers by U.S. sales in reporting January gains that topped estimates, as buyers return to showrooms to begin a fourth consecutive year of growth. The yen traded near the weakest level since May 2010 amid optimism that the Bank of Japan will boost monetary stimulus, boosting the appeal of commodities priced in the currency.
“Strong auto data from the U.S. created a bullish mood in the rubber market,” said Kazuhiko Saito, analyst at broker Fujitomi Co. in Tokyo. The yen’s drop beyond 92 per dollar also spurred buying, he said.
Imports by China, the world’s largest consumer, surged 18 percent last year to 3.37 million tons, the Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries said in a monthly bulletin on Feb. 1. Imports may rise 0.9 percent this year to 3.4 million tons, it said. Inventories gained 807 tons to 98,814 tons, based on a survey of nine warehouses in Shanghai, Shandong, Yunnan, Hainan and Tianjin, the Shanghai Futures Exchange said Feb. 1.
Rubber for May delivery rose 1 percent to 26,735 yuan ($4,292) a ton on the Shanghai Futures Exchange. Thai rubber free-on-board gained 0.3 percent to 96.90 baht ($3.26) a kilogram on Feb. 1, according to the country’s rubber research institute.
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