TOKYO, Nov 21 (Reuters) – Key TOCOM rubber futures rose for the fourth straight day and hit their highest in three weeks on Thursday on a weaker yen versus the dollar, with investors looking out for Chinese manufacturing data later in the day for clues on global demand.
* The most-active Tokyo Commodity Exchange rubber contract, for April delivery <0#2JRU:>, was trading up 2.1 yen, or 0.82 percent, at 258.8 yen as of 0026 GMT.
* The benchmark, which earlier rose its highest since Nov.1 at 260 yen, has climbed about 4 percent so far this week.
* The TOCOM market is closed for a public holiday on Friday.
* In the first 10 months of this year, China, the world’s biggest rubber consumer, imported 1.75 million tonnes of natural rubber, up 5.6 percent from a year earlier.
* The country has bought a few cargoes from Thailand and Malaysia for nearby shipments, while the cheaper Indonesian grade has attracted purchases from European tyre makers, dealers said on Wednesday.
* Japan’s Nikkei share average rose to a 6-month high on Thursday led by gains in exporters on expectations that a sharply weaker yen would boost their earnings.
* The yen languished near eight-month lows versus the dollar on Thursday as investors gave it a wide berth on expectations of more policy action in Japan, while revived hopes of a Greek loan deal saw the euro stage a dramatic turnaround. A weaker yen makes TOCOM rubber more appealing to holders of other currencies.
* Oil ended higher after thin, volatile trading on Wednesday, as late-day short-covering ahead of a U.S. holiday offset earlier relief over a ceasefire that ended eight days of fighting in the Gaza strip.
* The following data is expected on Thursday: (Time in GMT)
0145 China HSBC Mfg PMI Flash Nov
0758 France Markit Mfg Flash PMI Nov
0828 Germany Markit Mfg Flash PMI Nov
0858 Euro zone Markit Mfg flash PMI Nov
European Central Bank Governing Council meeting (Reporting by Risa Maeda; Editing by Joseph Radford)