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SINGAPORE: Japanese rubber futures fell marginally on Thursday after rising for the last two sessions, as concerns of a possible US recession weighed.

Osaka Exchange’s rubber contract for September delivery finished 0.3 yen, or 0.2%, lower at 206.5 yen ($1.55) per kg. The rubber contract on the Shanghai futures exchange for September delivery fell 40 yuan to finish at 11,680 yuan ($1,699.40) per tonne.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei average closed up 0.26%. On Tuesday, the International Monetary Fund trimmed its 2023 global growth outlook slightly as higher interest rates cool activity but warned that a severe flare-up of financial system turmoil could slash output to near recessionary levels.

Minutes from the Federal Reserve’s policy meeting last month showed officials forecasting that the banking sector stress would tip the economy into recession.

Despite broad warnings about the economic risks, global monetary policymakers are keeping their focus squarely on inflation and the need to continue raising interest rates to tame it. “It seems the US recession will start to be a topic of concern, which can only lead to slower overall GDP numbers worldwide in the next 6 months,” said a Singapore-based trader. “Likely rubber demand from the US will start to slow down.”

China’s exports unexpectedly surged in March, with officials flagging rising demand for electric vehicles, but analysts cautioned the improvement partly reflects suppliers catching up with unfulfilled orders after last year’s COVID-19 disruptions.

Asian stocks struggled on Thursday, dragged down by tech and property selling in Hong Kong, while the dollar was under pressure as softening US inflation seemed to suggest the Federal Reserve’s rate hike cycle was nearing its end. The front-month rubber contract on Singapore Exchange’s SICOM platform for May delivery last traded at 134.3 US cents per kg, up 0.1%.

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