WASHINGTON (May 4)—Muslim sectarian violence against Buddhists in southern Thailand is having only minor effects so far on world natural rubber markets, according to sources close to the rubber trade.
"During this time of year, it's the wintering period north of the equator, so stocks will always be a little tighter than usual," said an anonymous source. "But the situation in Thailand is not helping—people are afraid to tap (their rubber trees)."
More than 100 Muslim insurgents were killed April 28 when they attacked police with machetes; during the previous three months, more people were killed in various skirmishes, according to news reports. Indonesia, not Thailand, is the main source of NR for the U.S., according to the source, but the Thai situation "is having a peripheral effect on pricing, maybe keeping it a little higher than it otherwise would be," he said.
The price of Standard Indonesian Rubber 20 in the Far East was about 56 cents per pound May 4, down a few cents from the year's peak but still about twice as much as the record-low prices of a few years ago.