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SINGAPORE: Japanese rubber futures retreated on Friday amid profit-taking, downbeat auto demand outlook and lower oil prices, but finished with a weekly gain of 5.68%.

The Osaka Exchange (OSE) rubber contract for June delivery closed down 1 yen, or 0.35%, at 286.7 yen ($1.94) per kg. *

The contract marked its seventh consecutive weekly gain, the longest since November 2019, amid tighter supply in top-producer Thailand.

The rubber contract on the Shanghai Futures Exchange (SHFE) for May delivery was down 35 yuan to finish at 13,665 yuan ($1,903.84) per metric ton.

“Futures likely saw profit-taking just before the weekend,” said Farah Miller, CEO of Helixtap Technologies, an independent rubber-focused data company.

LG Energy Solution on Friday predicted slowing growth in the global electric vehicle (EV) market this year, signalling further challenges ahead amid intensifying competition from Chinese rivals.

Oil prices eased on Friday, but were set for their biggest weekly gain since October as positive US economic growth and signs of Chinese stimulus boosted fuel demand sentiment. Natural rubber often takes direction from oil prices as it competes for market share with synthetic rubber, which is made from crude oil.

China’s deep cut to bank reserves lifted Chinese stocks in the previous sessions, though the markets turned lower on Friday as investors locked in profits and cautiously awaited more details on the stimulus plans.

Japan’s benchmark Nikkei average closed down 1.34%. The Japanese yen weakened 0.07% to 147.77 against the dollar. The front-month rubber contract on the Singapore Exchange’s SICOM platform for February delivery last traded at 153.50 US cents per kg, down 0.52%.

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