WASHINGTON (Feb. 28)—Natural rubber prices caught the rubber industry by surprise on the Tokyo and Singapore commodity exchanges, as they shot up sharply on both exchanges in the week ending Feb. 25.
Tokyo prices skyrocketed 12 percent in one week, ending at about $1.30 per kilogram. The gains on the Singapore market were more moderate, at 4.5 percent. "There are a million reasons for this (the price increase), but the main one is that there are simply a lot of speculators in the market now," said Whitney Luckett, vice president of sales and marketing for RCMA Americas Inc.
Among the other reasons for higher prices, according to news reports from Southeast Asia, are the annual slowdown in production during the "wintering" season; hotter-than-normal weather in Thailand, the world´s largest NR producer; and continued burgeoning demand from China.