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Agency: Crude oil prices could cause NR prices to increase

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KUALA LUMPUR (April 7, 2014) — Pending increases in crude oil prices could have at least an indirect effect on natural rubber (NR) prices in the coming year, according to the Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries (ANRPC).

Brent (U.K.) oil prices rose more than $2 per barrel to the highest level in months during February, said the February issue of Natural Rubber Trends & Statistics, the monthly ANRPC report. Continuing unrest between Russia and Ukraine pushed oil prices higher, the report said.

“With no fundamental impact on oil markets yet, the rise was seen (as) very much sentiment-driven,” the ANRPC said. But various reports predict that oil prices soon could rise to $110 or even $120 per barrel stemming from the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it said.

The report included graphs showing price fluctuations in natural rubber and crude oil on the Tokyo Commodity Exchange and the Singapore Exchange. The graphs showed NR prices dropping sharply during the first two months of 2014, despite oil prices that were more or less steady.

NR prices in January and February were influenced more by flat economic growth and financial market data than by oil prices, according to the ANRPC. “However, with the possibility of higher crude oil prices in the months to come, it may indirectly affect NR prices,” the association said.

Natural rubber production increases in the 11 ANRPC-member countries were robust in February 2014 compared with February 2013, increasing 9.9 percent to 1.77 million metric tons from 1.61 million, the association said.

Exports from those countries, however, grew much less quickly—only 1.2 percent in February 2014 to 1.38 million tons, compared with 1.37 million tons in February 2013.

Imports to ANRPC countries barely grew—only 0.6 percent in February 2014 to 830,000 tons, compared with 825,000 tons in February 2013. NR consumption during the periods grew 1.3 percent, to 1.05 million tons from 1.04 million.

Prices for tire-grade rubber declined between December 2013 and February 2014, according to the ANRPC. The price of Standard Thai Rubber 20 began at $233.04 per 100 kilograms in December, but fell 7.1 percent to $216.58 in January and another 11 percent, to $192.83, in February.

Standard Malaysian Rubber 20 started at $231.76 per 100 kilos in December, but decreased 6.9 percent to $215.72 in January and another 10.5 percent, to $192.98, in February.

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