LONDON (March 3)—Natural rubber stocks are at their lowest levels since 1996, according to the January edition of the "Rubber Industry Report" from the International Rubber Study Group. Global inventories of synthetic rubber, however, increased for the ninth consecutive year in 2002 as production continued to exceed consumption, the IRSG said. The London-based organization said total world rubber consumption grew 1.2 percent in 2002 to 17.63 million metric tons, but expects consumption to shoot up 7 percent in 2003 and 5.5 percent in 2004. World NR prices have been strong so far in 2003, with the three largest NR-producing countries—Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia—generally honoring a mutual agreement to cut shipments by 10 percent.
IRSG: NR stocks fall to lowest levels since '96
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