BANGKOK, March 30 (Reuters) – Tokyo rubber futures ended 1 percent lower on Friday as players took profit ahead of the quarter’s end, but firm oil prices and limited supply in major producing countries continued to lend support, dealers said.
The benchmark rubber contract on the Tokyo Commodity Exchange for September delivery fell 3.4 yen, or 1 percent, to settle at 325.7 yen ($3.96) per kg.
Despite the drop, Tokyo futures, which set the tone for physical prices, gained around 24 percent in the first quarter.
The most-active Shanghai rubber contract for May delivery rose 85 yuan to finish at 27,980 yuan ($4,400) per tonne.
The front-month April rubber contract on the Singapore SICOM exchange was last traded at 375.00 U.S. cents per kg, down 2.9 cents.
Brent crude rose towards $123 on Friday as investors bet on a tighter gasoline market in the world’s largest oil consumer during the peak summer driving season and on persistent worries of a supply disruption in the Middle East.
Supply in Thailand, the world’s biggest rubber producer and exporter, is expected to remain tight until the end of April as the country is still in a dry season when rubber trees stop producing latex, forcing farmers to stop tapping for weeks.
Tapping normally resumes in late-April and supply is expected to pick up by May, traders said.
($1 = 82.2550 Japanese yen)
($1 = 6.3060 Chinese yuan)
(Reporting by Apornrath Phoonphongphiphat; Editing by Jonathan Hopfner)
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