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Tokyo rubber futures soar on Shanghai rally

Japanese rubber futures soared on Monday as strong Shanghai futures prompted fresh buying and a progress in Covid-19 vaccines fuelled hopes for a recovery in global economy. Osaka Exchange's rubber contract for May delivery finished 10.0 yen, or 4.4%, higher at 239.9 yen ($2.3) per kg.

The rubber contract on the Shanghai futures exchange for May delivery rose 230 yuan to finish at 14,655 yuan ($2,241) per tonne as strong automobiles sales in China boosted expectations for solid tyre demand.

The front-month rubber contract on Singapore's SICOM exchange for January delivery last traded at 156.8 US cents per kg, up 1.6%.

China's vehicle sales are likely to hit 25.3 million units this year, an industry body said on Friday, as the world's biggest vehicle market continued to lead the global auto industry recovery from lows hit during the pandemic.

"China's healthy outlook for automobile demand lent support," said Hiroyuki Kikukawa, general manager of research at Nissan Securities.

"The progress in Covid-19 vaccine development and distribution also raised hopes that similar steps will be taken in Japan next year," he added.

The first shipments of Covid-19 vaccine left on trucks and planes early on Sunday, kicking off a historic effort to stop a surging pandemic that is claiming more than 2,400 lives a day in the United States.

Japanese business sentiment improved for the second straight quarter in October-December, a key central bank survey showed, a welcome sign for the economy as it continued to emerge from the initial hit of the pandemic.

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