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SINGAPORE: Japanese rubber futures inched lower on Tuesday, tracking losses in the Shanghai market as rising Covid-19 cases in China and protests against strict restrictions weighed on sentiment.

The Osaka Exchange rubber contract for May delivery was down 0.2 yen, or 0.1%, at 213.8 yen ($1.54) per kg, as of 0200 GMT. The rubber contract on the Shanghai futures exchange for January delivery was down 75 yuan, or 0.6%, at 12,790 yuan ($1,778) per tonne. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei share average opened down 0.61%.

Market sentiment over rubber demand in top buyer China has been mixed as the country struggles with rising Covid-19 cases and the reintroduction of lockdown measures.

Police on Monday stopped and searched people at the sites of weekend protests in Shanghai and Beijing, after crowds there and in other Chinese cities demonstrated against stringent Covid-19 measures disrupting lives three years into the pandemic.

Mainland China’s Health Commission reported 38,645 new coronavirus cases for Nov. 28, compared with 40,347 new cases a day earlier. Volkswagen and FAW’s plant in Chengdu, China has halted production for the past week due to rising coronavirus cases, and two of the five production lines at its Changchun plant are on hold, a VW spokesperson said on Monday.

Japanese retail sales marked an eighth successive month of annual growth in October, data showed, after full reopening of borders added to the boost from this year’s dismantling of internal pandemic control measures. The front-month rubber contract on Singapore Exchange’s SICOM platform for December delivery last traded at 127.7 US cents per kg, up 1.3%.

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