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SINGAPORE: Japanese rubber futures edged lower on Wednesday, as traders remained cautious about a slowdown in the global economy and ahead of an expected interest rate hike decision from the US Federal Reserve.

The Osaka Exchange’s rubber contract for January delivery finished 1.4 yen, or 0.6%, lower at 238.2 yen ($1.74) per kg.

The rubber contract on the Shanghai futures exchange for September delivery fell 5 yuan to finish at 12,125 yuan ($1,793) per tonne.

“As expected, investors are skittish as they wait for the outcome of the Fed rate-hike meeting,” said a Singapore-based trader.

Investors are expecting a 75-basis-point rate increase from the Fed, with markets pricing about a 10% risk of a larger hike.

The International Monetary Fund expects global real GDP growth of 3.2% in 2022, down from its 3.6% forecast in April, with downside risks from high inflation and the Ukraine conflict potentially pushing the world economy to the brink of recession.

Japan’s Nikkei reversed course to end higher on Wednesday, helped by gains in heavyweight chip-related stocks.

There were concerns in the past few weeks over slowing rubber demand in China as extended lockdowns amid fresh outbreaks of COVID-19 would likely lead to reduced industrial activity and consumption.

China’s central metropolis of Wuhan temporarily shut some businesses and public transport in a district with almost a million people, as the city where the pandemic first emerged raised vigilance after several new infections.

Mainland China’s Health Commission reported 703 new coronavirus cases for July 26, compared with 976 new cases a day earlier.

The front-month rubber contract on Singapore Exchange’s SICOM platform for August delivery last traded at 157.0 US cents per kg, down 0.3%.

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