Japanese rubber futures trod water on Thursday, as downbeat domestic factory data and automotive woes offset strong retail car sales from top rubber consumer China that raised hopes for demand recovery.

The Osaka Exchange rubber contract for November delivery finished down 0.2 yen, or 0.1%, at 253.8 yen ($1.87) per kg.

China car sales added some bullishness to the market and natural rubber demand should be improving in the country, a Singapore-based trader said.

OSE might see a short-term rebound soon but higher Thai raw material supply may limit this rebound, he added.

Japan’s factory activity growth slowed in June as China’s strict COVID-19 curbs took a toll on manufacturing demand, even as service sector sentiment hit a nearly nine-year high on the fading pandemic drag.

Japan rubber futures slide

Toyota Motor Corp on Wednesday cut its July global production plan by 50,000 vehicles as semiconductor shortages and COVID-19 parts supply disruptions continued to curb output.

The rubber contract on the Shanghai futures exchange for September delivery was up 155 yuan to finish at 12,755 yuan ($1,902.65) per tonne, its largest daily percentage increase since June 9.

Retail car sales in China jumped 55% from June 13 to June 19 compared with the same period in May, data from the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) showed.

The front-month rubber contract on Singapore Exchange’s SICOM platform for July delivery last traded at 159.6 U.S. cents per kg, up 0.8%.

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