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SINGAPORE: Japanese rubber futures opened flat on Thursday amid mixed signals from Asian factory activity data this week. The Osaka Exchange (OSE) rubber contract for November delivery was unchanged at 208.0 yen ($1.49) per kg as of 0204 GMT.

The rubber contract on the Shanghai futures exchange (SHFE) for September delivery was down 45 yuan, or 0.4%, at 11,820 yuan ($1,664.94) per tonne. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei average opened down 0.01%.

Japan’s factory activity expanded in May for the first time in seven months thanks to increases in output and new orders, and buoyed by a positive outlook for the year ahead, a private sector survey showed on Thursday.

However, China’s factory activity contracted faster than expected in May, while profit at China’s industrial firms slumped in the first four months of 2023, knocking Asian financial markets lower.

Oil prices dipped in early trade on Thursday for the third straight session, after data showed an unexpected, large build in US crude stocks last week, triggering oversupply fears amid signs of weaker Chinese demand.

Lower oil prices incentivise manufacturers to shift to synthetic rubber, derived from oil, hindering the natural rubber market. A divided US House of Representatives passed a bill to suspend the $31.4 trillion debt ceiling on Wednesday, with majority support from both Democrats and Republicans to overcome opposition from hardline conservatives and avoid a catastrophic default.

The front-month rubber contract on Singapore Exchange’s SICOM platform for July delivery last traded at 131.3 US cents per kg, up 0.1%.

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