* SIR20 sold at $2.60-$2.61/kg for January shipment
* Major tyre makers await lower prices, China sidelined
By Lewa Pardomuan
SINGAPORE, Nov 24 (Reuters) - A few cargoes of Indonesian tyre grade rubber were sold to Singapore dealers, but other buyers stayed away from the physical market after prices extended gains on tight supply and rising Tokyo futures, dealers said on Tuesday.
SIR20 for January delivery changed hands late on Monday at 118.00 to 118.50 U.S. cents per pound ($2.60 to $2.61 a kg) free on board Belawan port. There were also deals with tyre makers at much lower levels at the weekend, they said.
"The price has jumped up quite a lot, so I think buyers want to wait for a while," a dealer in Thailand's southern city of Hat Yai said.
"Some people said SMR20 was traded in China at $2.65 CIF but we're not sure if that's true because the price seems to be quite high," said the dealer, referring to the Malaysian tyre grade.
Tyre grade gained more than 2 percent on Tuesday after the most active Tokyo rubber futures, currently April 2010 , rallied to a 13-month high of 250 yen a kg on gains in other commodities and bullish charts. [RUB/T]
Prices were also supported by the dry winter in Indonesia and monsoon rains in main producer Thailand, which have disrupted tapping and caused flooding in several plantations. [ID:nBKK260681]
For details on physical prices, double click [ID:nBKK482802]
"We're expecting the price to rise further. That's why some producers are also reluctant to sell at current levels. Tomorrow's price may be much better," said a dealer in Jakarta.
Just before prices shot up again this week, tyre makers purchased SIR20 at 116.00 to 116.50 cents per pound for January to March shipment at the weekend. A major tyre maker placed a bid for Thai RSS3 at $2.60 but there were no reports of deals.
"I think major tyre makers such as Bridgestone, Goodyear or Michelin are still interested to buy more, but China is very slow," said a dealer in Indonesia's main growing island of Sumatra.
"They may be active again next year, but for sure prices are still very strong," he added.
China, the world's largest rubber consumer, has been a bright spot for the global auto market this year, thanks to a raft of government incentives, including aggressive cuts in sales taxes on small cars. These cuts are slated to expire by end of 2009.
However, dealers said they had noted a slowdown in China's demand in recent months, especially for SIR20 grade, as local tyre makers turned to local inventories in Shanghai for stocks.
China's natural rubber imports dropped 34.98 percent to 101,721 tonnes in October from the same month last year. January-October imports fell 2.8 percent to 1.41 million tonnes year-on-year, according to customs data. [SOF/CN] (Editing by Himani Sarkar) ((firstname.lastname@example.org; +65 6870 3834; Reuters Messaging:email@example.com)) ((If you have a query or comment on this story, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org))