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SINGAPORE: Japanese rubber futures climbed for a fifth consecutive session to a seven-year high on Friday, as a stronger domestic stock market lifted investor sentiment, while a softer yen lent support. The Osaka Exchange (OSE) rubber contract for July delivery closed up 7.3 yen, or 2.53%, at 296.1 yen ($1.97) per kg, the highest close since Feb. 20, 2017.

The contract rebounded after two straight weeks of losses to log a weekly gain of 6.51%. Japan’s benchmark Nikkei jumped to close at another 34-year peak on Friday, helped higher by a buoyant Wall Street, with its all-time high of 38,957.44 points hit on Dec. 29, 1989, in range.

The Japanese yen weakened 0.18% to 150.19 against the dollar, after strengthening overnight due to a larger-than-expected drop in US January retail sales, which prompted a slight repositioning of expectations for interest rate cuts.

The weakening yen helped accelerate Japanese stock gains and boosted investor sentiment in the rubber market as it made yen-denominated assets more affordable for overseas buyers.

“The USD/Yen movement definitely impacted the OSE futures as raw materials in Thailand remained stable or had a slight decrease this week,” said Farah Miller, CEO of Helixtap Technologies, an independent rubber-focused data company.

The wintering of rubber trees normally takes place from end-February until end-April. Current buying appetite from tyre manufacturers for rubber remained decent despite some auto manufacturers’ less-than-rosy results, Miller added.

Several US auto retailers had reported dour fourth-quarter profits this week. Under pressure from Chinese competitors, major US and European auto manufacturers are pushing hard to cut electric vehicle costs.

Mainland China’s financial markets are closed 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 154.10 US cents per kg, up 0.65%.

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