* Bridgestone buys SIR20 at 105.75-106.50 cents/lb
* SMR20 done at $2.465/kg, RSS3 at $2.575/kg
* Prices track TOCOM rubber lower (Adds TOCOM closing)
By Lewa Pardomuan
SINGAPORE, Oct 23 (Reuters) - Bridgestone Corp bought Indonesian rubber for nearby shipments and Malaysian tyre grade was sold among trading houses, but China stayed on the sidelines waiting for bargains, dealers said on Wednesday.
Top consumer China imported 1,666,815 tonnes of natural rubber in January to September this year, up 5.5 percent from the same period last year. It mainly buys rubber from Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Prices of tyre grades in Southeast Asia have fallen in the past week after benchmark rubber futures on Tokyo Commodity Exchange fell from a 3-week high hit last week because of a firmer yen and weaker oil.
Indonesia’s SIR20 was sold to Bridgestone, the world’s largest tyre maker, at 105.75 U.S. cents a pound for December delivery ($2.33 a kg) and at 106.50 cents for January ($2.34 a kg) in a series of overnight deals, versus 108.25 cents for February and at 108.50 cents for March/April reported last week.
Singapore dealers also bought SIR20 late on Tuesday 106.50 to 107.25 cents for December and January shipments, down from 107.50 cents last week. Malaysia’s SMR20 was traded at $2.465 a kg for December delivery, down from $2.47 last week.
“People are complaining how come Bridgestone managed to get Indonesian rubber so cheaply,” said a dealer in Singapore.
“China has been quiet in the past few days, but we heard some Chinese buyers are keen to buy RSS3 for stockpiling.”
Thai RSS3 rubber was sold late on Tuesday at $2.575 a kg for December shipment, down from $2.62 last week, but there were no details on the buyers. There were no reports of deals for another Thai grade, STR20.
China, which accounts for 35 percent of global consumption, announced last year it would buy up to 200,000 tonnes of rubber from the domestic market to support prices but dealers said only a fraction was purchased by the end of 2012.
Some dealers speculated China would aim to stockpile that same amount of rubber this year, probably buying about 50,000 tonnes from the overseas market and the rest locally.
“I heard Chinese traders had bought some stocks from Thailand, and it also seems Thai shippers were glad to sell RSS3,” said an analyst in Tokyo, who gave no further details.
China has often been a bright spot in the volatile rubber market, where prices of tyre grades fell to multi-year lows mid-year because of concerns over global economic growth.
Tyre grades are likely to track movements in the Tokyo market, while waiting for more news on China’s stockpiling plan. The most active March contract on TOCOM lost 7.0 yen, or 2.6 percent, to settle at 261.5 yen a kg on Wednesday, the lowest closing price since Oct. 10.
“I guess the market will be waiting for more economic data from China. I think 275 yen will be the resistance level,” said the analyst in Tokyo. (Editing by Richard Pullin and Subhranshu Sahu)