Dec. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Rubber climbed for a third week as the Japanese currency fell to a five-year low, raising the appeal of yen-denominated futures and speculation grew that Chinese demand will expand.
The contract for delivery in May on the Tokyo Commodity Exchange closed little changed at 283.7 yen a kilogram ($2,740 a metric ton). The most-active contract gained 2.9 percent this week, paring losses to 6.2 percent this year.
The yen slid to 103.92 per dollar, the lowest level since October 2008, as improving U.S. economic data boosted bets the Federal Reserve will reduce stimulus as early as next week. Data this week showed passenger-vehicle sales rose 16 percent in China last month, boosting speculation demand for rubber from tiremakers will increase, said Kazuhiko Saito, an analyst at broker Fujitomi Co. in Tokyo.
“The market is supported by a weak yen and optimism about Chinese demand,” he said by phone.
China’s imports of natural rubber and latex climbed to a record 270,000 tons in November, according to General Administration of Customs. Data also showed this week U.S. retail sales rose more than forecast last month as Americans bought cars and took advantage of discounts going into the holiday-shopping season.
The contract for May delivery on the Shanghai Futures Exchange lost 1.2 percent to close at 19,885 yuan ($3,275) a ton. Thai rubber free-on-board added 0.6 percent to 83.45 baht ($2.60) a kilogram today, according to the Rubber Research Institute of Thailand.
--With assistance from Supunnabul Suwannakij in Bangkok. Editors: Jarrett Banks, Sungwoo Park