TOKYO (Dec 14): Benchmark Tokyo rubber futures ended lower on Friday, after hitting a nearly 8-week high earlier in the day, as investors adjusted their positions ahead of the weekend and amid worries about a slowing economy in top buyer China, dealers said.
China, the world's No. 2 economy, on Friday reported some of its slowest growth in retail sales and industrial output in years, highlighting the risks of the country's trade dispute with the United States.
The Tokyo Commodity Exchange (TOCOM) rubber contract for May delivery finished 0.3 yen lower at 168.6 yen (US$1.48) per kg, after rising to 170.0 yen, the highest since Oct 22, earlier in the session.
But for the week, the TOCOM benchmark, which sets the tone for rubber prices in Southeast Asia, gained 2.6%, marking a third straight weekly increase.
"Speculators have played a major role this week, with many TOCOM-approved inventories expiring this month," Jiong Gu, an analyst at Yutaka Shoji Co, said.
"The December contract has led the rally earlier this week but it's hard to tell how the December contract will perform next week ahead of its expiration on Thursday," he said.
Representatives from top rubber producers Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, which comprise the International Tripartite Rubber Council (ITRC), met on Dec 12-13 in Malaysia to talk about low rubber prices, the council said in a statement on Thursday.
It added they would meet again before the year-end to finalise measures to improve the market, that would be implemented early in 2019.
TOCOM's technically specified rubber (TSR) 20 futures contract for June delivery fell 1.4% to close at 147.6 yen per kg.
The most-active rubber contract on the Shanghai futures exchange for May delivery finished unchanged at 11,295 yuan (US$1,637) per tonne.
The front-month rubber contract on Singapore's SICOM exchange for January delivery last traded at 123.8 US cents per kg, down 1.2 cent.
(US$1 = 113.5500 yen)
(US$1 = 6.9009 Chinese yuan)