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SINGAPORE: Japanese rubber futures closed almost flat on Monday, as worries about China’s economy countered support from a weaker yen.

The Osaka Exchange’s rubber contract for October delivery finished down 0.2 yen, or 0.1%, at 251.5 yen ($1.92) per kg.

OSE prices were down due to weak demand in China and a lack of bullish sentiment in the Shanghai market amid lockdowns, said a Singapore-based trader.

Losses were capped by a weaker yen and tighter raw material output due to heavy rains in the southern regions of Thailand, said another Singapore-based trader.

The dollar traded at 131.15 yen, against 130.68 yen on Friday afternoon in Asia. A weaker yen makes yen-denominated assets more affordable when purchased in other currencies.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei share average was down 2.5% on Monday.

The rubber contract on the Shanghai futures exchange for September delivery was down 385 yuan to finish at 12,435 yuan ($1,850.47) per tonne, after hitting the lowest since Sept. 30, 2020 of 12,410 yuan earlier in the session. China’s two biggest cities tightened COVID-19 curbs on their residents, raising new frustration and even questions about the legality of its uncompromising battle with the virus.

China’s export growth slowed to single digits, the weakest in almost two years, while imports barely changed in April as tighter and wider COVID-19 curbs halted factory production and crimped domestic demand, adding to wider economic woes.

The front-month rubber contract on Singapore Exchange’s SICOM platform for June delivery last traded at 155.9 US cents per kg, down 2.3%.

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