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SINGAPORE: Japanese rubber futures edged lower on Tuesday, tracking losses in the Shanghai market as rising Covid-19 cases in top buyer China dashed demand hopes fuelled by an easing of coronavirus curbs.

The Osaka Exchange rubber contract for May delivery was down 0.7 yen, or 0.3%, at 229.0 yen ($1.66) per kg, as of 0200 GMT.

The rubber contract on the Shanghai futures exchange for January delivery was down 130 yuan, or 1.0%, at 12,930 yuan ($1,852) per tonne.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei share average opened up 0.81%.

Hopes had grown in recent weeks that rubber demand in top buyer China would improve as more cities relaxed Covid-19 restrictions that had limited industrial activity and consumption. People queued outside fever clinics at Chinese hospitals for Covid -19 checks on Monday, a new sign of the rapid spread of symptoms after authorities began dismantling an apparatus they used to surveil residents and curtail movement. Mainland China’s Health Commission reported 7,679 new coronavirus cases for Dec. 12, compared with 8,838 new cases a day earlier.

Investors keenly awaited the US November CPI data due at 1330 GMT on Tuesday, ahead of the Federal Reserve’s two-day meeting on interest rates - the outcome of which is expected to be an interest rate hike of 50 basis points.

Asian stock markets were buoyed by overnight optimism on Wall Street that the US Federal Reserve and other central banks would ease off on the pace at which interest rates have been hiked to tackle the highest inflation levels in decades.

The front-month rubber contract on Singapore Exchange’s SICOM platform for January delivery last traded at 136.4 US cents per kg, up 0.1%.

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