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TOKYO: Japanese rubber futures fell on Monday as a resurgence in COVID-19 cases raised concerns over fresh curbs by the government, while weak retail sales in top buyer China fuelled fears about slowing demand for the material.

The Osaka Exchange’s rubber contract for June delivery finished 3.6 yen, or 1.5%, lower at 242.9 yen ($2.1) per kg, sliding from its highest since Nov. 30 of 248.4 yen hit during overnight trade.

The rubber contract on the Shanghai futures exchange for May delivery fell 90 yuan, or 0.6%, to finish at 14,920 yuan ($2,352) per tonne.

Japan’s government is discussing whether to impose a quasi-state of emergency in the capital, Tokyo, and surrounding areas this week to contain a surge in COVID-19 infections, broadcaster FNN said on Monday.

China’s economy rebounded in 2021 from its pandemic-induced slump, helped by robust exports but the pace slowed further in the fourth quarter off the back of weak consumption and a property downturn, pointing to the need for more policy support.

China’s retail sales in December missed expectations with only a 1.7% increase from a year earlier, official data showed.

China’s central bank surprised by cutting some key lending rates by a sizable 10 basis points.

The front-month rubber contract on the Singapore Exchange’s SICOM platform for February delivery last traded at 178.8 U.S. cents per kg, down 1.4%.

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