* SIR20 sold at 206.50 to 208 cents/lb
SINGAPORE, Aug 15 (Reuters) – Major tyre makers are in the market to buy nearby cargo, while steady purchases by China and a rebound in Tokyo futures helped lift physical prices in Southeast Asia, dealers said on Monday.
Sept/Oct Thai STR20 and Malaysian SMR20 grades changed hands at $4.67 a kg free on board in several deals late last week. Indonesian SIR20 grade was traded at much cheaper prices.
“I would say China keeps on buying. SIR20 has been traded at 207.50 to 207.75 cents a pound. We also sold directly to a factory at a slightly better price of 208 cents,” said a dealer in Singapore, who mainly trades the Indonesian grade.
Carmakers are increasingly relying on growth in high-profile emerging markets like China, Brazil, Russia and India, with the U.S. auto industry far from returning to the heady days of a decade ago when it was selling about 17 million cars a year.
China, which is rebuilding its inventory, imported around 874,000 tonnes of natural rubber in the first half of this year, up 4.57 percent year-on-year.
Dealers in Indonesia, the world’s second-largest producer after Thailand, said China was buying rubber via trading houses in Singapore.
The world’s largest tyre maker, Bridgetone Corp , also bought some quantity of SIR20 at 207.75 cents a pound for October delivery, they said.
Early last week, Thai STR20 grade was traded to China at $4.63 to $4.66 including freight, its lowest level in more than a month.
The most active Tokyo Commodity Exchange rubber contract for January delivery ended 1.3 yen a kg higher at 364.8 yen a kg on Monday to track a rebound in equities market — off last week’s 1-month low at 348 yen.
TOCOM, which sets the tone for physical prices, hit a record in February around 535 yen.
(Reporting by Lewa Pardomuan; Editing by Sugita Katyal)
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