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TOKYO: Japanese rubber futures rose to a three-week high on Friday, buoyed by strong US data and an easing of fears that top buyer China will tighten monetary policy, putting them on track for a weekly gain of 3.5percent.

The Osaka Exchange rubber contract for November delivery was up 5.0 yen, or 2.0percent, at 260.4 yen ($2.4) per kg, as of 0102 GMT, after hitting the highest since May 7 of 260.9 yen earlier in the session.

The rubber contract on the Shanghai futures exchange for September delivery was up 150 yuan, or 1.1percent, at 13,850 yuan ($2,170) per tonne on Friday.

The number of Americans filing new claims for unemployment benefits dropped more than expected as layoffs subsided, with companies desperate for workers to meet surging demand unleashed by a rapidly reopening economy.

Earnings at China’s industrial firms grew at a slower pace in April. The data calmed worries over policy tightening and helped lift Chinese stock markets to three-month highs.

The International Rubber Study Group (IRSG) expects global natural rubber consumption to increase by 7percent in 2021, after declining 8.1percent in 2020 because of the pandemic, secretary general Salvatore Pinizzotto said this week.

The front-month rubber contract on Singapore’s SICOM exchange for June delivery last traded at 170.1 US cents per kg, up 0.2percent.

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