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SINGAPORE: Japanese rubber futures rose on Monday, tracking gains in the Shanghai market as more cities in top buyer China eased strict Covid restrictions over the weekend, lifting demand sentiment.

The Osaka Exchange rubber contract for May delivery was up 1.0 yen, or 0.5%, at 217.7 yen ($1.62) per kg, as of 0200 GMT.

The rubber contract on the Shanghai futures exchange for January delivery was up 110 yuan, or 0.9%, at 12,915 yuan ($1,853) per tonne. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei share average opened down 0.09%. Beijing residents on Saturday cheered the removal of Covid-19 testing booths, while Shenzhen said it would no longer require commuters to present test results to travel.

More Chinese cities including Urumqi in the far west announced an easing of coronavirus curbs on Sunday as China tries to make its zero-Covid policy more targeted and less onerous after unprecedented protests against restrictions last weekend.

Mainland China’s Health Commission reported 30,014 new coronavirus cases for Dec 4, compared with 31,824 new cases a day earlier. Oil prices jumped 2% on Monday after OPEC+ nations held their output targets steady ahead of a European Union ban and a price cap kicking in on Russian crude.

The natural rubber market benefits from stronger oil prices that spur manufacturers to shift away from synthetic rubber, which is derived from oil, thus driving up prices of natural rubber.

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