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TOKYO: Japanese rubber futures fell on Wednesday as China’s falling vehicle sales raised concerns over slower demand in the world’s top rubber consumer while surging energy costs fuelled fears the global economic recovery might be derailed.

Osaka Exchange’s rubber contract for March delivery finished 1.9 yen, or 0.8%, lower at 225.3 yen ($2.0) per kg, after falling more than 3% earlier in the session to track slumping Shanghai prices.

The rubber contract on the Shanghai futures exchange for January delivery plunged 375 yuan to finish at 14,435 yuan ($2,240) per tonne. It fell to as low as 14,015 yuan earlier in the session as speculators unwound their long positions in thin trade.

China’s auto sales slumped 19.6% in September from a year earlier, industry data showed on Tuesday, falling for a fifth consecutive month as a prolonged global shortage of semiconductors and a domestic power crunch disrupt production.

China’s economic growth is likely to slow to 5.5% in 2022 from an expected expansion of 8.2% this year, a Reuters poll showed.

China’s import of natural and synthetic rubber fell 28.98% in September from a year earlier.

The front-month rubber contract on Singapore’s SICOM exchange for October delivery last traded at 171.7 U.S. cents per kg, down 1.1%.

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