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SINGAPORE: Japanese rubber futures ticked higher on Friday, supported by a weaker yen and higher oil prices, although the market posted its second consecutive weekly decline.

The Osaka Exchange (OSE) rubber contract for July delivery rose 0.1% to 278 yen per kg. The contract declined 1.7% this week. The yen slipped to a 10-week low, while the dollar ground towards a fourth weekly advance as traders dialled back bets on how quickly the Bank of Japan will raise interest rates and how soon the Federal Reserve will cut them.

A weaker Japanese currency makes yen-denominated assets more affordable to overseas buyers. Japan’s Nikkei index inched higher, coming off from a fresh 34-year high as investors sold stocks to lock in profits.

Oil prices were little changed, staying on track for weekly gains, with tensions persisting in the Middle East after Israel rejected a ceasefire offer from Hamas. 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 central bank on Thursday said it would keep policy flexible and precise to boost domestic demand, while maintaining price stability.

Rubber inventories in warehouses monitored by the Shanghai Futures Exchange rose 0.4% from last Friday, the exchange said on Thursday. Mainland China markets are closed from Friday, Feb. 9, through Friday, Feb. 16, for the Lunar New Year holidays, and will resume trade on Monday, Feb. 19.

The front-month rubber contract on Singapore Exchange’s SICOM platform for March delivery last traded at 151.70 US cents per kg, up 0.2%.

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