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SINGAPORE: Japanese rubber futures edged higher for a fifth straight session on Thursday as the yen weakened against the U.S. dollar, with limited raw material supply and a stronger Tokyo stock market lending support.

The Osaka Exchange rubber contract for August delivery was up 2.7 yen, or 1.1%, to finish at 255.2 yen ($2.10) per kg. The dollar traded at 121.62 yen, against 121.02 yen on Wednesday afternoon in Asia. A weaker Japanese currency makes yen-denominated assets more affordable for buyers with other currencies.

Heavy rain in Thailand over the past week has affected rubber tapping, tightening raw material supply and in turn pushing up raw material prices and OSE prices, one Singapore-based trader said. Thai latex prices hit their highest since March 13 at 52.35 baht ($1.56) per kg on Thursday.

Thai rubber sheet prices hit 75.90 baht per kg on Thursday for their highest since Feb. 28. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei share average rose 0.25% on Thursday, ending at a nine-week high, as a retreat in crude oil prices eased worries about inflation in a country that depends on imports for its energy needs.

March Manufacturing activity in Japan accelerated from the previous month as a reduction in COVID-19 cases helped to lift orders and production, though surging input prices and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine clouds the outlook. The rubber contract for May delivery on the Shanghai futures exchange was up 80 yuan to finish at 13,465 yuan ($2,114.81) a tonne.

New daily COVID-19 cases in the Chinese commercial hub of Shanghai remained close to 1,000 on Thursday as authorities scrambled to identify and isolate asymptomatic infections, though a leading expert said the outbreak was being contained.

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